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Development and application of a real-time PCR approach for quantification of uncultured bacteria in the central Baltic Sea.We have developed a highly sensitive approach to assess the abundance of uncultured bacteria in water samples from the central Baltic Sea by using a noncultured member of the "Epsilonproteobacteria" related to Thiomicrospira denitrificans as an example. Environmental seawater samples and samples enriched for the target taxon provided a unique opportunity to test the approach over a broad range of abundances. The approach is based on a combination of taxon- and domain-specific real-time PCR measurements determining the relative T. denitrificans-like 16S rRNA gene and 16S rRNA abundances, as well as the determination of total cell counts and environmental RNA content. It allowed quantification of T. denitrificans-like 16S rRNA molecules or 16S rRNA genes as well as calculation of the number of ribosomes per T. denitrificans-like cell. Every real-time measurement and its specific primer system were calibrated using environmental nucleic acids obtained from the original habitat for external standardization. These standards, as well as the respective samples to be measured, were prepared from the same DNA or RNA extract. Enrichment samples could be analyzed directly, whereas environmental templates had to be preamplified with general bacterial primers before quantification. Preamplification increased the sensitivity of the assay by more than 4 orders of magnitude. Quantification of enrichments with or without a preamplification step yielded comparable results. T. denitrificans-like 16S rRNA molecules ranged from 7.1 x 10(3) to 4.4 x 10(9) copies ml(-1) or 0.002 to 49.7% relative abundance. T. denitrificans-like 16S rRNA genes ranged from 9.0 x 10(1) to 2.2 x10(6) copies ml(-1) or 0.01 to 49.7% relative abundance. Detection limits of this real-time-PCR approach were 20 16S rRNA molecules or 0.2 16S rRNA gene ml(-1). The number of ribosomes per T. denitrificans-like cell was estimated to range from 20 to 200 in seawater and reached up to 2,000 in the enrichments. The results indicate that our real-time PCR approach can be used to determine cellular and relative abundances of uncultured marine bacterial taxa and to provide information about their levels of activity in their natural environment.
Traditional cattle manure application determines abundance, diversity and activity of methanogenic Archaea in arable European soil.Based on lipid analyses, 16S rRNA/rRNA gene single-strand conformation polymorphism fingerprints and methane flux measurements, influences of the fertilization regime on abundance and diversity of archaeal communities were investigated in soil samples from the long-term (103 years) field trial in Bad Lauchstädt, Germany. The investigated plots followed a gradient of increasing fertilization beginning at no fertilization and ending at the 'cattle manure' itself. The archaeal phospholipid etherlipid (PLEL) concentration was used as an indicator for archaeal biomass and increased with the gradient of increasing fertilization, whereby the concentrations determined for organically fertilized soils were well above previously reported values. Methane emission, although at a low level, were occasionally only observed in organically fertilized soils, whereas the other treatments showed significant methane uptake. Euryarchaeotal organisms were abundant in all investigated samples but 16S rRNA analysis also demonstrated the presence of Crenarchaeota in fertilized soils. Lowest molecular archaeal diversity was found in highest fertilized treatments. Archaea phylogenetically most closely related to cultured methanogens were abundant in these fertilized soils, whereas Archaea with low relatedness to cultured microorganisms dominated in non-fertilized soils. Relatives of Methanoculleus spp. were found almost exclusively in organically fertilized soils or cattle manure. Methanosarcina-related microorganisms were detected in all soils as well as in the cattle manure, but soils with highest organic application rate were specifically dominated by a close phylogenetic relative of Methanosarcina thermophila. Our findings suggest that regular application of cattle manure increased archaeal biomass, but reduced archaeal diversity and selected for methanogenic Methanoculleus and Methanosarcina strains, leading to the circumstance that high organic fertilized soils did not function as a methane sink at the investigated site anymore.