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Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Vol: 77, No: 2, 2011, Pages: 586-596

Influence of Plant Polymers on the Distribution and Cultivation of Bacteria in the Phylum Acidobacteria,+

Stephanie A. Eichorst,1* Cheryl R. Kuske,1 and Thomas M. Schmidt2

Los Alamos National Laboratory, Bioscience Division, Mailstop M888, Los Alamos, NM 87545.


Members of the phylum Acidobacteria are among the most abundant bacteria in soil. Although they have been characterized as versatile heterotrophs, it is unclear if the types and availability of organic resources influence their distribution in soil. The potential for organic resources to select for different acidobacteria was assessed using molecular and cultivation-based approaches with agricultural and managed grassland soils in Michigan. The distribution of acidobacteria varied with the carbon content of soil: the proportion of subdivision 4 sequences was highest in agricultural soils (ca. 41%) that contained less carbon than grassland soils, where the proportions of subdivision 1, 3, 4, and 6 sequences were similar. Either readily oxidizable carbon or plant polymers were used as the sole carbon and energy source to isolate heterotrophic bacteria from these soils. Plant polymers increased the diversity of acidobacteria cultivated but decreased the total number of heterotrophs recovered compared to readily oxidizable carbon. Two phylogenetically novel Acidobacteria strains isolated on the plant polymer medium were characterized. Strains KBS 83 (subdivision 1) and KBS 96 (subdivision 3) are moderate acidophiles with pH optima of 5.0 and 6.0, respectively. Both strains grew slowly (µ = 0.01 h–1) and harbored either 1 (strain KBS 83) or 2 (strain KBS 96) copies of the 16S rRNA encoding gene—a genomic characteristic typical of oligotrophs. Strain KBS 83 is a microaerophile, growing optimally at 8% oxygen. These metabolic characteristics help delineate the niches that acidobacteria occupy in soil and are consistent with their widespread distribution and abundance.

Keywords:phylum Acidobacteria;Acidobacteria;Plant Polymers;abundant bacteria in soil;plant growth.

Corresponding author: Tel (505) 667-1071, Fax (505) 665-3024.

E-mail: s.eichorst@gmail.com


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