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Microb Ecol. 1998 Nov;36(3):362-371.

A Comparison of the Use of In Vitro-Transcribed and Native rRNA for the Quantification of Microorganisms in the Environment.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 3221 Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory, 205 North Mathews Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801, USA


Nearly full-length, small subunit (SSU) rRNA was transcribed in vitro from clones of SSU rDNA genes. Comparing the use of in vitro-transcribed and native rRNA indicated that, when in vitro-transcribed rRNA was used as a standard for quantitative hybridizations with oligonucleotide probes, the population was consistently underestimated. The population abundance was expressed as a percentage of specific target SSU rRNA (determined with a specific oligonucleotide probe), relative to the total SSU rRNA (measured with a universal probe). Differences in hybridization signals could be related to specific probe target locations and rRNA denaturation conditions, suggesting that higher order structure is important in quantitative membrane hybridizations. Therefore, in vitro-transcribed rRNA cannot always be used for the absolute quantification of microbial populations, but can be employed as a standard to quantify shifts in population abundance over time, and to compare community structure in various environments.


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