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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 May;73(9):2982-9. Epub 2007 Mar 2.

Biogeography of actinomycete communities and type II polyketide synthase genes in soils collected in New Jersey and Central Asia.

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Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment, Cook College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8521, USA.


Soil microbial communities are believed to be comprised of thousands of different bacterial species. One prevailing idea is that "everything is everywhere, and the environment selects," implying that all types of bacteria are present in all environments where their growth requirements are met. We tested this hypothesis using actinomycete communities and type II polyketide synthase (PKS) genes found in soils collected from New Jersey and Uzbekistan (n = 91). Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis using actinomycete 16S rRNA and type II PKS genes was employed to determine community profiles. The terminal fragment frequencies in soil samples had a lognormal distribution, indicating that the majority of actinomycete phylotypes and PKS pathways are present infrequently in the environment. Less than 1% of peaks were detected in more than 50% of samples, and as many as 18% of the fragments were unique and detected in only one sample. Actinomycete 16S rRNA fingerprints clustered by country of origin, indicating that unique populations are present in North America and Central Asia. Sequence analysis of type II PKS gene fragments cloned from Uzbek soil revealed 35 novel sequence clades whose levels of identity to genes in the GenBank database ranged from 68 to 92%. The data indicate that actinomycetes are patchily distributed but that distinct populations are present in North American and Central Asia. These results have implications for microbial bioprospecting and indicate that the cosmopolitan actinomycete species and PKS pathways may account for only a small proportion of the total diversity in soil.

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