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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 1997 Jul;20(3-4):201-16.

Phylogenetic characterization of bacteria in the subsurface microbial culture collection.

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Department of Biological Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee 32306-3043, USA.


The Subsurface Microbial Culture Collection (SMCC) was established by the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) and contains nearly 10,000 strains of microorganisms (mostly bacteria) isolated from terrestrial subsurface environments. Selected groups of bacterial isolates from three sample sites situated above geochemically and hydrologically different subsurface environments have been characterized by phylogenetic analysis of 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene nucleotide sequences. Among these isolates were members of six major phylogenetic groups of bacteria: the high-G+C and low-G+C Gram-positive bacteria; the alpha-, beta-, and gamma-subdivisions of the Proteobacteria; and the Flexibacter/Cytophaga/Bacteroides group. A small number of the SMCC strains may be members of new bacterial genera, but most of them could be placed with reasonable confidence into more than 35 previously described genera. The majority of the Gram-positive isolates were species of Arthrobacter, Bacillus, or Streptococcus, whereas Acinetobacter, Comamonas, Pseudomonas, Sphingomonas, and Variovorax were among the most frequently encountered Gram-negative genera. A high proportion of the strains were placed in fewer than 10 genera, implying that there is substantial duplication within the SMCC at the genus level. When groups of isolates assigned to Acinetobacter, Arthrobacter, or Sphingomonas were analyzed in more detail, however, it was found that each group consisted of subgroups of strains that probably differed at the species level. Restriction endonuclease analysis (applied to the strains from one sample site) indicated that additional diversity was present at the strain level. Most of the SMCC isolates assigned to some genera (e.g., Acinetobacter) were very closely related to previously described species in those genera, but most of the isolates assigned to other genera (e.g., Arthrobacter and Sphingomonas) appeared (or were shown) to be new species, thereby indicating that a reasonable amount of novelty is present within the SMCC at the species level.

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