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The community structure of bacterioplankton in meromictic Lake Saelenvannet was examined by PCR amplification of the V3 region of 16S rRNA from microbial communities recovered from various depths in the water column. Two different primer sets were used, one for amplification of DNA from the domain Bacteria and another specific for DNA from the domain Archaea. Amplified DNA fragments were resolved by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), and the resulting profiles were reproducible and specific for the communities from different depths. Bacterial diversity estimated from the number and intensity of specific fragments in DGGE profiles decreased with depth. The reverse was true for the Archaea, with the diversity increasing with depth. Hybridization of DGGE profiles with oligonucleotide probes specific for phylogenetic groups of microorganisms showed the presence of both sulfate-reducing bacteria and methanogens throughout the water column, but they appeared to be most abundant below the chemocline. Several dominant fragments in the DGGE profiles were excised and sequenced. Among the dominant populations were representatives related to Chlorobium phaeovibrioides, chloroplasts from eukaryotic algae, and unidentified Archaea.