Diversity and structure of bacterial chemolithotrophic communities in pine forest and agroecosystem soils

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Obligate lithotrophs (e.g., ammonia oxidizers) and facultative lithotrophs (e.g., CO and hydrogen oxidizers) collectively comprise a phylogenetically diverse functional group that contributes significantly to carbon and nitrogen cycles in soils and plays important roles in trace gas dynamics (e.g., carbon monoxide and nitrous and nitric oxides) that affect tropospheric chemistry and radiative forcing. In spite of their diverse physiologies, facultative and obligate lithotrophs typically possess the Calvin-Benson-Bassham cycle enzyme, ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (rubisCO). In an effort designed to understand the structure of lithotrophic communities in soil, genomic DNA extracts from surface (0 to 2 cm) and subsurface (5 to 7 cm) soils have been obtained from two sites in a Georgia agroecosystem (peanut and cotton plots) and an unmanaged pine stand (>50 years old). The extracts have been used in PCR amplifications of the cbbL gene for the rubisCO large subunit protein. cbbL PCR products were cloned, sequenced, and subjected to phylogenetic and statistical analyses. Numerous novel lineages affiliated with the form IC clade (one of four form I rubisCO clades), which is typified by facultative lithotrophs, comprised lithotrophic communities from all soils. One of the form IC clone sequences clustered with a form IC clade of ammonia-oxidizing Nitrosospira. Distinct assemblages were obtained from each of the sites and from surface and subsurface soils. The results suggest that lithotrophic populations respond differentially to plant type and land use, perhaps forming characteristic associations. The paucity of clone sequences attributed to ammonia-oxidizing bacteria indicates that even though ammonia oxidation occurs in the various soils, the relevant populations are small compared to those of facultative lithotrophs. Copyright © 2005, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

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Applied and Environmental Microbiology

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