Predominant Bacillus spp. in agricultural soil under different management regimes detected via PCR-DGGE

P.V. Garbeva, J.A. Van Veen, J.D. Van Elsas

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    A PCR system for studying the diversity of species of Bacillus and related taxa directly from soil was developed. For this purpose, a specific 24-bp forward primer located around position 110 of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene was designed and combined with a reverse bacterial primer located at the end of the gene. The specificity of this PCR system for bacilli and related taxons was confirmed on the basis of tests with diverse strains as well as with soil DNA. Analysis of a soil DNA derived clone library showed that the amplified fragments affiliated exclusively with sequences of gram-positive bacteria, with up to 95% of the sequences originating from putative Bacillus species. In particular, sequences affiliated to those of B. mycoides, B. pumilus, B. megaterium, B. thuringiensis, and B. firmus, as well as to related taxa such as Paenibacillus, were obtained. A minority, i.e., less than 6%, of the clones affiliated with other gram-positive bacteria, such as Arthrobacter spp., Frankia spp., and uncultured gram-positives. The amplified fragments were used as templates for a second PCR using bacterial 16S rDNA primers, yielding PCR products of about 410 bp, which were separated by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). Amplicons indicating Bacillus spp. were found in the gel between 45% and roughly 60% denaturant, whereas those representing other, high-G+C% bacteria, were localized in gel regions with denaturant concentrations exceeding about 60%, thus allowing the distinction between these two groups of sequences. We applied this system to compare the group-specific diversity in bacterial communities in an agricultural soil under different regimes, i.e., permanent grassland, grassland recently turned to arable land, and arable land under agricultural rotation. Differences in the Bacillus-related community structures between the treatments were clearly detected. Higher diversities, as judged by Shannon–Weaver indices calculated on the basis of the molecular profiles, were consistently observed in the permanent grassland and the grassland turned into arable land, as compared to the arable land
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)302-316
    JournalMicrobial Ecology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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