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1.  Microbial Populations Responsive to Denitrification-Inducing Conditions in Rice Paddy Soil, as Revealed by Comparative 16S rRNA Gene Analysis▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(22):7070-7078.
Rice paddy soil has been shown to have strong denitrifying activity. However, the microbial populations responsible for nitrate respiration and denitrification have not been well characterized. In this study, we performed a clone library analysis of >1,000 clones of the nearly full-length 16S rRNA gene to characterize bacterial community structure in rice paddy soil. We also identified potential key players in nitrate respiration and denitrification by comparing the community structures of soils with strong denitrifying activity to those of soils without denitrifying activity. Clone library analysis showed that bacteria belonging to the phylum Firmicutes, including a unique Symbiobacterium clade, dominated the clones obtained in this study. Using the template match method, several operational taxonomic units (OTUs), most belonging to the orders Burkholderiales and Rhodocyclales, were identified as OTUs that were specifically enriched in the sample with strong denitrifying activity. Almost one-half of these OTUs were classified in the genus Herbaspirillum and appeared >10-fold more frequently in the soils with strong denitrifying activity than in the soils without denitrifying activity. Therefore, OTUs related to Herbaspirillum are potential key players in nitrate respiration and denitrification under the conditions used.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01481-09
PMCID: PMC2786546  PMID: 19767468
2.  Numerically Dominant Denitrifying Bacteria from World Soils 1 
Nineteen soils, three freshwater lake sediments, and oxidized poultry manure were examined to determine the dominant denitrifier populations. The samples, most shown or expected to support active denitrification, were from eight countries and included rice paddy, temperate agricultural, rain forest, organic, and waste-treated soils. Over 1,500 organisms that could grow anaerobically on nitrate agar were isolated. After purification, 146 denitrifiers were obtained, as verified by production of N2 from NO3-. These isolates were characterized by 52 properties appropriate for the Pseudomonas-Alcaligenes group. Numerical taxonomic procedures were used to group the isolates and compare them with nine known denitrifier species. The major group isolated was representative of Pseudonomas fluorescens biotype II. The second most prevalent group was representative of Alcaligenes. Other Pseudomonas species as well as members of the genus Flavobacterium, the latter previously not known to denitrify, also were identified. One-third of the isolates could not utilize glucose or other carbohydrates as sole carbon sources. Significantly, none of the numerically dominant denitrifiers we isolated resembled the most studied species: Pseudomonas denitrificans, Pseudomonas perfectomarinus, and Paracoccus denitrificans. Denitrification appears to be a property of a very diverse group of gram-negative, motile bacteria, as shown by the large number (22.6%) of ungrouped organisms. The diversity of denitrifiers from a given sample was usually high, with at least two groups present. Denitrifiers, nitrite accumulators, and organisms capable of anaerobic growth were present in the ratio of 0.20±0.23:0.81±0.23:1. There were few correlations between their numbers and the sample characteristics measured. However, the temperatures at which isolates could grow were significantly related to the temperatures of the environments from which they were isolated. Regression analysis revealed few relationships between physical parameters and bacterial types, save for the anaerobe numbers, in which 94% of the variance could be accounted for.
PMCID: PMC170793  PMID: 869539
3.  Cultivation of Denitrifying Bacteria: Optimization of Isolation Conditions and Diversity Study†  
An evolutionary algorithm was applied to study the complex interactions between medium parameters and their effects on the isolation of denitrifying bacteria, both in number and in diversity. Growth media with a pH of 7 and a nitrogen concentration of 3 mM, supplemented with 1 ml of vitamin solution but not with sodium chloride or riboflavin, were the most successful for the isolation of denitrifiers from activated sludge. The use of ethanol or succinate as a carbon source and a molar C/N ratio of 2.5, 20, or 25 were also favorable. After testing of 60 different medium parameter combinations and comparison with each other as well as with the standard medium Trypticase soy agar supplemented with nitrate, three growth media were highly suitable for the cultivation of denitrifying bacteria. All evaluated isolation conditions were used to study the cultivable denitrifier diversity of activated sludge from a municipal wastewater treatment plant. One hundred ninety-nine denitrifiers were isolated, the majority of which belonged to the Betaproteobacteria (50.4%) and the Alphaproteobacteria (36.8%). Representatives of Gammaproteobacteria (5.6%), Epsilonproteobacteria (2%), and Firmicutes (4%) and one isolate of the Bacteroidetes were also found. This study revealed a much more diverse denitrifying community than that previously described in cultivation-dependent research on activated sludge.
doi:10.1128/AEM.72.4.2637-2643.2006
PMCID: PMC1448990  PMID: 16597968
4.  Identification of Active Denitrifiers in Rice Paddy Soil by DNA- and RNA-Based Analyses 
Microbes and Environments  2012;27(4):456-461.
Denitrification occurs markedly in rice paddy fields; however, few microbes that are actively involved in denitrification in these environments have been identified. In this study, we used a laboratory soil microcosm system in which denitrification activity was enhanced. DNA and RNA were extracted from soil at six time points after enhancing denitrification activity, and quantitative PCR and clone library analyses were performed targeting the 16S rRNA gene and denitrification functional genes (nirS, nirK and nosZ) to clarify which microbes are actively involved in denitrification in rice paddy soil. Based on the quantitative PCR results, transcription levels of the functional genes agreed with the denitrification activity, although gene abundance did not change at the DNA level. Diverse denitrifiers were detected in clone library analysis, but comparative analysis suggested that only some of the putative denitrifiers, especially those belonging to the orders Neisseriales, Rhodocyclales and Burkholderiales, were actively involved in denitrification in rice paddy soil.
doi:10.1264/jsme2.ME12076
PMCID: PMC4103554  PMID: 22972387
denitrification; nirS; nirK; nosZ
5.  Denitrifying Bacteria Isolated from Terrestrial Subsurface Sediments Exposed to Mixed-Waste Contamination▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(10):3244-3254.
In terrestrial subsurface environments where nitrate is a critical groundwater contaminant, few cultivated representatives are available to verify the metabolism of organisms that catalyze denitrification. In this study, five species of denitrifying bacteria from three phyla were isolated from subsurface sediments exposed to metal radionuclide and nitrate contamination as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge Integrated Field Research Challenge (OR-IFRC). Isolates belonged to the genera Afipia and Hyphomicrobium (Alphaproteobacteria), Rhodanobacter (Gammaproteobacteria), Intrasporangium (Actinobacteria), and Bacillus (Firmicutes). Isolates from the phylum Proteobacteria were complete denitrifiers, whereas the Gram-positive isolates reduced nitrate to nitrous oxide. rRNA gene analyses coupled with physiological and genomic analyses suggest that bacteria from the genus Rhodanobacter are a diverse population of denitrifiers that are circumneutral to moderately acidophilic, with a high relative abundance in areas of the acidic source zone at the OR-IFRC site. Based on genome analysis, Rhodanobacter species contain two nitrite reductase genes and have not been detected in functional-gene surveys of denitrifying bacteria at the OR-IFRC site. Nitrite and nitrous oxide reductase gene sequences were recovered from the isolates and from the terrestrial subsurface by designing primer sets mined from genomic and metagenomic data and from draft genomes of two of the isolates. We demonstrate that a combination of cultivation and genomic and metagenomic data is essential to the in situ characterization of denitrifiers and that current PCR-based approaches are not suitable for deep coverage of denitrifiers. Our results indicate that the diversity of denitrifiers is significantly underestimated in the terrestrial subsurface.
doi:10.1128/AEM.03069-09
PMCID: PMC2869116  PMID: 20305024
6.  Identification and isolation of active N2O reducers in rice paddy soil 
The ISME Journal  2011;5(12):1936-1945.
Dissolved N2O is occasionally detected in surface and ground water in rice paddy fields, whereas little or no N2O is emitted to the atmosphere above these fields. This indicates the occurrence of N2O reduction in rice paddy fields; however, identity of the N2O reducers is largely unknown. In this study, we employed both culture-dependent and culture-independent approaches to identify N2O reducers in rice paddy soil. In a soil microcosm, N2O and succinate were added as the electron acceptor and donor, respectively, for N2O reduction. For the stable isotope probing (SIP) experiment, 13C-labeled succinate was used to identify succinate-assimilating microbes under N2O-reducing conditions. DNA was extracted 24 h after incubation, and heavy and light DNA fractions were separated by density gradient ultracentrifugation. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and clone library analysis targeting the 16S rRNA and the N2O reductase gene were performed. For culture-dependent analysis, the microbes that elongated under N2O-reducing conditions in the presence of cell-division inhibitors were individually captured by a micromanipulator and transferred to a low-nutrient medium. The N2O-reducing ability of these strains was examined by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Results of the SIP analysis suggested that Burkholderiales and Rhodospirillales bacteria dominated the population under N2O-reducing conditions, in contrast to the control sample (soil incubated with only 13C-succinate). Results of the single-cell isolation technique also indicated that the majority of the N2O-reducing strains belonged to the genera Herbaspirillum (Burkholderiales) and Azospirillum (Rhodospirillales). In addition, Herbaspirillum strains reduced N2O faster than Azospirillum strains. These results suggest that Herbaspirillum spp. may have an important role in N2O reduction in rice paddy soils.
doi:10.1038/ismej.2011.69
PMCID: PMC3223309  PMID: 21677691
denitrification; Herbaspirillum; nitrous oxide; rice paddy soil; single-cell isolation; stable isotope probing
7.  Novel anaerobic ultramicrobacteria belonging to the Verrucomicrobiales lineage of bacterial descent isolated by dilution culture from anoxic rice paddy soil. 
The use of dilution culture techniques to cultivate saccharolytic bacteria present in the anoxic soil of flooded rice microcosms allowed the isolation of three new strains of bacteria, typified by their small cell sizes, with culturable numbers estimated at between 1.2 x 10(5) and 7.3 x 10(5) cells per g of dry soil. The average cell volumes of all three strains were 0.03 to 0.04 microns3, and therefore they can be termed ultramicrobacteria or "dwarf cells." The small cell size is a stable characteristic, even when the organisms grow at high substrate concentrations, and thus is not a starvation response. All three strains have genomic DNA with a mol% G+C ratio of about 63, are gram negative, and are motile by means of a single flagellum. The three new isolates utilized only sugars and some sugar polymers as substrates for growth. The metabolism is strictly fermentative, but the new strains are oxygen tolerant. Sugars are metabolized to acetate, propionate, and succinate. Hydrogen production was not significant. In the presence of 0.2 atm of oxygen, the fermentation end products or ratios did not change. The phylogenetic analysis on the basis of 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sequence comparisons indicates that the new isolates belong to a branch of the Verrucomicrobiales lineage and are closely related to a cloned 16S rDNA sequence (PAD7) recovered from rice paddy field soil from Japan. The isolation of these three strains belonging to the order Verrucomicrobiales from a model rice paddy system, in which rice was grown in soil from an Italian rice field, provides some information on the possible physiology and phenotype of the organism represented by the cloned 16S rDNA sequence PAD7. The new isolates also extend our knowledge on the phenotypic and phylogenetic depths of members of the order Verrucomicrobiales, to date acquired mainly from cloned 16S rDNA sequences from soils and other habitats.
PMCID: PMC168432  PMID: 9097435
8.  Abundance, Composition and Activity of Ammonia Oxidizer and Denitrifier Communities in Metal Polluted Rice Paddies from South China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102000.
While microbial nitrogen transformations in soils had been known to be affected by heavy metal pollution, changes in abundance and community structure of the mediating microbial populations had been not yet well characterized in polluted rice soils. Here, by using the prevailing molecular fingerprinting and enzyme activity assays and comparisons to adjacent non-polluted soils, we examined changes in the abundance and activity of ammonia oxidizing and denitrifying communities of rice paddies in two sites with different metal accumulation situation under long-term pollution from metal mining and smelter activities. Potential nitrifying activity was significantly reduced in polluted paddies in both sites while potential denitrifying activity reduced only in the soils with high Cu accumulation up to 1300 mg kg−1. Copy numbers of amoA (AOA and AOB genes) were lower in both polluted paddies, following the trend with the enzyme assays, whereas that of nirK was not significantly affected. Analysis of the DGGE profiles revealed a shift in the community structure of AOA, and to a lesser extent, differences in the community structure of AOB and denitrifier between soils from the two sites with different pollution intensity and metal composition. All of the retrieved AOB sequences belonged to the genus Nitrosospira, among which species Cluster 4 appeared more sensitive to metal pollution. In contrast, nirK genes were widely distributed among different bacterial genera that were represented differentially between the polluted and unpolluted paddies. This could suggest either a possible non-specific target of the primers conventionally used in soil study or complex interactions between soil properties and metal contents on the observed community and activity changes, and thus on the N transformation in the polluted rice soils.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102000
PMCID: PMC4109924  PMID: 25058658
9.  Abundance, composition and activity of denitrifier communities in metal polluted paddy soils 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:19086.
Denitrification is one of the most important soil microbial processes leading to the production of nitrous oxide (N2O). The potential changes with metal pollution in soil microbial community for N2O production and reduction are not well addressed. In this study, topsoil samples were collected both from polluted and non-polluted rice paddy fields and denitrifier communities were characterized with molecular fingerprinting procedures. All the retrieved nirK sequences could be grouped into neither α- nor β- proteobacteria, while most of the nosZ sequences were affiliated with α-proteobacteria. The abundances of the nirK and nosZ genes were reduced significantly in the two polluted soils. Thus, metal pollution markedly affected composition of both nirK and nosZ denitrifiers. While the total denitrifying activity and N2O production rate were both reduced under heavy metal pollution of the two sites, the N2O reduction rate showed no significant change. These findings suggest that N2O production activity could be sensitive to heavy metal pollution, which could potentially lead to a decrease in N2O emission in polluted paddies. Therefore, metal pollution could have potential impacts on soil N transformation and thus on N2O emission from paddy soils.
doi:10.1038/srep19086
PMCID: PMC4703955  PMID: 26739424
10.  Use of Stable-Isotope Probing, Full-Cycle rRNA Analysis, and Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization-Microautoradiography To Study a Methanol-Fed Denitrifying Microbial Community 
A denitrifying microbial consortium was enriched in an anoxically operated, methanol-fed sequencing batch reactor (SBR) fed with a mineral salts medium containing methanol as the sole carbon source and nitrate as the electron acceptor. The SBR was inoculated with sludge from a biological nutrient removal activated sludge plant exhibiting good denitrification. The SBR denitrification rate improved from less than 0.02 mg of NO3−-N mg of mixed-liquor volatile suspended solids (MLVSS)−1 h−1 to a steady-state value of 0.06 mg of NO3−-N mg of MLVSS−1 h−1 over a 7-month operational period. At this time, the enriched microbial community was subjected to stable-isotope probing (SIP) with [13C]methanol to biomark the DNA of the denitrifiers. The extracted [13C]DNA and [12C]DNA from the SIP experiment were separately subjected to full-cycle rRNA analysis. The dominant 16S rRNA gene phylotype (group A clones) in the [13C]DNA clone library was closely related to those of the obligate methylotrophs Methylobacillus and Methylophilus in the order Methylophilales of the Betaproteobacteria (96 to 97% sequence identities), while the most abundant clone groups in the [12C]DNA clone library mostly belonged to the family Saprospiraceae in the Bacteroidetes phylum. Oligonucleotide probes for use in fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) were designed to specifically target the group A clones and Methylophilales (probes DEN67 and MET1216, respectively) and the Saprospiraceae clones (probe SAP553). Application of these probes to the SBR biomass over the enrichment period demonstrated a strong correlation between the level of SBR denitrification and relative abundance of DEN67-targeted bacteria in the SBR community. By contrast, there was no correlation between the denitrification rate and the relative abundances of the well-known denitrifying genera Hyphomicrobium and Paracoccus or the Saprospiraceae clones visualized by FISH in the SBR biomass. FISH combined with microautoradiography independently confirmed that the DEN67-targeted cells were the dominant bacterial group capable of anoxic [14C]methanol uptake in the enriched biomass. The well-known denitrification lag period in the methanol-fed SBR was shown to coincide with a lag phase in growth of the DEN67-targeted denitrifying population. We conclude that Methylophilales bacteria are the dominant denitrifiers in our SBR system and likely are important denitrifiers in full-scale methanol-fed denitrifying sludges.
doi:10.1128/AEM.70.1.588-596.2004
PMCID: PMC321253  PMID: 14711691
11.  Diversity of Cultivable Methane-Oxidizing Bacteria in Microsites of a Rice Paddy Field: Investigation by Cultivation Method and Fluorescence in situ Hybridization (FISH) 
Microbes and Environments  2012;27(3):278-287.
The diversity of cultivable methane-oxidizing bacteria (MOB) in the rice paddy field ecosystem was investigated by combined culture-dependent and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) techniques. Seven microsites of a Japanese rice paddy field were the focus of the study: floodwater, surface soil, bulk soil, rhizosphere soil, root, basal stem of rice plant, and rice stumps of previous harvest. Based on pmoA gene analysis and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), four type I, and nine type II MOB isolates were obtained from the highest dilution series of enrichment cultures. The type I MOB isolates included a novel species in the genus Methylomonas from floodwater and this is the first type I MOB strain isolated from floodwater of a rice paddy field. In the type I MOB, two isolates from stumps were closely related to Methylomonas spp.; one isolate obtained from rhizosphere soil was most related to Methyloccocus-Methylocaldum-Methylogaea clade. Almost all the type II MOB isolates were related to Methylocystis methanotrophs. FISH confirmed the presence of both types I and II MOB in all the microsites and in the related enrichment cultures. The study reported, for the first time, the diversity of cultivable methanotrophs including a novel species of type I MOB in rice paddy field compartments. Refining growth media and culture conditions, in combination with molecular approaches, will allow us to broaden our knowledge on the MOB community in the rice paddy field ecosystem and consequently to implement strategies for mitigating CH4 emission from this ecosystem.
doi:10.1264/jsme2.ME11327
PMCID: PMC4036049  PMID: 22446309
Cultivable bacteria; diversity; methane-oxidizing bacteria; FISH; rice paddy field microsite
12.  Impacts of different N management regimes on nitrifier and denitrifier communities and N cycling in soil microenvironments 
Soil biology & biochemistry  2010;42(9):1523-1533.
Real-time quantitative PCR assays, targeting part of the ammonia-monooxygenase (amoA), nitrous oxide reductase (nosZ), and 16S rRNA genes were coupled with 15N pool dilution techniques to investigate the effects of long-term agricultural management practices on potential gross N mineralization and nitrification rates, as well as ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), denitrifier, and total bacterial community sizes within different soil microenvironments. Three soil microenvironments [coarse particulate organic matter (cPOM; >250 μm), microaggregate (53–250 μm), and silt-and-clay fraction (<53 μm)] were physically isolated from soil samples collected across the cropping season from conventional, low-input, and organic maize-tomato systems (Zea mays L.- Lycopersicum esculentum L.). We hypothesized that (i) the higher N inputs and soil N content of the organic system foster larger AOB and denitrifier communities than in the conventional and low-input systems, (ii) differences in potential gross N mineralization and nitrification rates across the systems correspond with AOB and denitrifier abundances, and (iii) amoA, nosZ, and 16S rRNA gene abundances are higher in the microaggregates than in the cPOM and silt-and-clay microenvironments. Despite 13 years of different soil management and greater soil C and N content in the organic compared to the conventional and low-input systems, total bacterial communities within the whole soil were similar in size across the three systems (~5.15×108 copies g−1 soil). However, amoA gene densities were ~2 times higher in the organic (1.75×108 copies g−1 soil) than the other systems at the start of the season and nosZ gene abundances were ~2 times greater in the conventional (7.65×107 copies g−1 soil) than in the other systems by the end of the season. Because organic management did not consistently lead to larger AOB and denitrifier communities than the other two systems, our first hypothesis was not corroborated. Our second hypothesis was also not corroborated because canonical correspondence analyses revealed that AOB and denitrifier abundances were decoupled from potential gross N mineralization and nitrification rates and from inorganic N concentrations. Our third hypothesis was supported by the overall larger nitrifier, denitrifier, and total bacterial communities measured in the soil microaggregates compared to the cPOM and silt-and-clay. These results suggest that the microaggregates are microenvironments that preferentially stabilize C, and concomitantly promote the growth of nitrifier and denitrifier communities, thereby serving as potential hotspots for N2O losses.
doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2010.05.021
PMCID: PMC3040239  PMID: 21339865
amoA; nosZ; soil microenvironments; N transformation rates; cropping system
13.  Cost-effectiveness of combination fluticasone propionate–salmeterol 250/50 μg versus salmeterol in severe COPD patients 
Objective:
To estimate the cost-effectiveness of fluticasone propionate–salmeterol combination (FSC) compared to salmeterol for maintenance therapy in severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Study design:
Pooled economic analysis.
Methods:
We performed an economic analysis of pooled data from two randomized clinical trials (combined N = 1554) that evaluated the effect of maintenance therapy with FSC (250/50 μg twice daily) or salmeterol (50 μg twice daily) on exacerbation rates in patients with severe COPD. We calculated exacerbation rates and applied standardized costs to exacerbation-related health care utilization reported in the trials (office, urgent care, and emergency department visits; hospitalizations; and oral corticosteroids and antibiotics) to determine cost differences between FSC and salmeterol treatment outcomes.
Results:
Annual rates of any exacerbation and moderate/severe exacerbation were lower in the FSC group than the salmeterol group (4.91 vs 5.78 and 1.32 vs 2.00 respectively, both P < 0.05). Total adjusted annual COPD related exacerbation and therapeutic costs were $4,842 (95% CI; $4,731–$4,952) in the FSC group and $5,066 (95% CI; $4,937–$5,195) in the salmeterol group.
Conclusions:
FSC combination therapy is associated with reduced risk of any exacerbation and moderate/severe exacerbation, and incurs lower annual COPD-related health care costs compared to treatment with salmeterol. This analysis demonstrates that FSC therapy may be advantageous from both a clinical and cost-benefit standpoint for patients with severe COPD.
PMCID: PMC2921685  PMID: 20714371
COPD; cost-effectiveness analysis; economic; maintenance therapy
14.  Comparative Genomic Characterization of Francisella tularensis Strains Belonging to Low and High Virulence Subspecies 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(5):e1000459.
Tularemia is a geographically widespread, severely debilitating, and occasionally lethal disease in humans. It is caused by infection by a gram-negative bacterium, Francisella tularensis. In order to better understand its potency as an etiological agent as well as its potential as a biological weapon, we have completed draft assemblies and report the first complete genomic characterization of five strains belonging to the following different Francisella subspecies (subsp.): the F. tularensis subsp. tularensis FSC033, F. tularensis subsp. holarctica FSC257 and FSC022, and F. tularensis subsp. novicida GA99-3548 and GA99-3549 strains. Here, we report the sequencing of these strains and comparative genomic analysis with recently available public Francisella sequences, including the rare F. tularensis subsp. mediasiatica FSC147 strain isolate from the Central Asian Region. We report evidence for the occurrence of large-scale rearrangement events in strains of the holarctica subspecies, supporting previous proposals that further phylogenetic subdivisions of the Type B clade are likely. We also find a significant enrichment of disrupted or absent ORFs proximal to predicted breakpoints in the FSC022 strain, including a genetic component of the Type I restriction-modification defense system. Many of the pseudogenes identified are also disrupted in the closely related rarely human pathogenic F. tularensis subsp. mediasiatica FSC147 strain, including modulator of drug activity B (mdaB) (FTT0961), which encodes a known NADPH quinone reductase involved in oxidative stress resistance. We have also identified genes exhibiting sequence similarity to effectors of the Type III (T3SS) and components of the Type IV secretion systems (T4SS). One of the genes, msrA2 (FTT1797c), is disrupted in F. tularensis subsp. mediasiatica and has recently been shown to mediate bacterial pathogen survival in host organisms. Our findings suggest that in addition to the duplication of the Francisella Pathogenicity Island, and acquisition of individual loci, adaptation by gene loss in the more recently emerged tularensis, holarctica, and mediasiatica subspecies occurred and was distinct from evolutionary events that differentiated these subspecies, and the novicida subspecies, from a common ancestor. Our findings are applicable to future studies focused on variations in Francisella subspecies pathogenesis, and of broader interest to studies of genomic pathoadaptation in bacteria.
Author Summary
Tularemia is a zoonotic disease that is widely disseminated throughout the Northern Hemisphere and is caused by different strain types of bacteria belonging to the genus Francisella. In general, Francisella tularensis subspecies are able to infect a wide range of mammals including humans and are often transmitted via insect vectors such as ticks. Depending on the strain and route of infection the disease may be fatal in humans. In order to better understand F. tularensis as an etiological agent as well as its potential as a biological weapon, we have completed draft sequence assemblies of five globally diverse strains. We have performed a comparative analysis of these sequences with other available public Francisella sequences of strains of differing virulence. Our analysis suggests that genome rearrangements and gene loss in specific Francisella subspecies may underlie the evolution of niche adaptation and virulence of this pathogen.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000459
PMCID: PMC2682660  PMID: 19478886
15.  Comparative Phylogenetic Assignment of Environmental Sequences of Genes Encoding 16S rRNA and Numerically Abundant Culturable Bacteria from an Anoxic Rice Paddy Soil 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1999;65(11):5050-5058.
We used both cultivation and direct recovery of bacterial 16S rRNA gene (rDNA) sequences to investigate the structure of the bacterial community in anoxic rice paddy soil. Isolation and phenotypic characterization of 19 saccharolytic and cellulolytic strains are described in the accompanying paper (K.-J. Chin, D. Hahn, U. Hengstmann, W. Liesack, and P. H. Janssen, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 65:5042–5049, 1999). Here we describe the phylogenetic positions of these strains in relation to 57 environmental 16S rDNA clone sequences. Close matches between the two data sets were obtained for isolates from the culturable populations determined by the most-probable-number counting method to be large (3 × 107 to 2.5 × 108 cells per g [dry weight] of soil). This included matches with 16S rDNA similarity values greater than 98% within distinct lineages of the division Verrucomicrobia (strain PB90-1) and the Cytophaga-Flavobacterium-Bacteroides group (strains XB45 and PB90-2), as well as matches with similarity values greater than 95% within distinct lines of descent of clostridial cluster XIVa (strain XB90) and the family Bacillaceae (strain SB45). In addition, close matches with similarity values greater than 95% were obtained for cloned 16S rDNA sequences and bacteria (strains DR1/8 and RPec1) isolated from the same type of rice paddy soil during previous investigations. The correspondence between culture methods and direct recovery of environmental 16S rDNA suggests that the isolates obtained are representative geno- and phenotypes of predominant bacterial groups which account for 5 to 52% of the total cells in the anoxic rice paddy soil. Furthermore, our findings clearly indicate that a dual approach results in a more objective view of the structural and functional composition of a soil bacterial community than either cultivation or direct recovery of 16S rDNA sequences alone.
PMCID: PMC91680  PMID: 10543822
16.  Rapid isolation of single malaria parasite-infected red blood cells by cell sorting 
Nature protocols  2011;6(2):140-146.
Malaria research often requires isolation of individually infected red blood cells (RBCs) or a homogenous parasite population derived from a single parasite (clone). Traditionally, isolation of individual, parasitized RBCs or parasite cloning is achieved by limiting dilution or micromanipulation. This protocol describes a method for more efficient cloning of the malaria parasite, which uses a cell sorter to rapidly isolate singly Plasmodium falciparum-infected RBCs. By gating the parameters of forward angle light scatter (FSC) and side angle light scatter (SSC) in a cell sorter, singly-infected RBCs can be isolated and automatically deposited into a 96-well culture plate within one minute. To include a Percoll purification step, the entire procedure to seed a 96-well plate with singly-infected RBCs takes less than 40 min. This highly efficient single-cell sorting protocol should be useful for cloning of both laboratory parasite populations from genetic manipulation experiments and clinical samples.
doi:10.1038/nprot.2010.185
PMCID: PMC3150729  PMID: 21293455
malaria parasite; Plasmodium falciparum; parasite cloning; single-cell sorting
17.  Community Composition and Functioning of Denitrifying Bacteria from Adjacent Meadow and Forest Soils 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2003;69(10):5974-5982.
We investigated communities of denitrifying bacteria from adjacent meadow and forest soils. Our objectives were to explore spatial gradients in denitrifier communities from meadow to forest, examine whether community composition was related to ecological properties (such as vegetation type and process rates), and determine phylogenetic relationships among denitrifiers. nosZ, a key gene in the denitrification pathway for nitrous oxide reductase, served as a marker for denitrifying bacteria. Denitrifying enzyme activity (DEA) was measured as a proxy for function. Other variables, such as nitrification potential and soil C/N ratio, were also measured. Soil samples were taken along transects that spanned meadow-forest boundaries at two sites in the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest in the Western Cascade Mountains of Oregon. Results indicated strong functional and structural community differences between the meadow and forest soils. Levels of DEA were an order of magnitude higher in the meadow soils. Denitrifying community composition was related to process rates and vegetation type as determined on the basis of multivariate analyses of nosZ terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism profiles. Denitrifier communities formed distinct groups according to vegetation type and site. Screening 225 nosZ clones yielded 47 unique denitrifying genotypes; the most dominant genotype occurred 31 times, and half the genotypes occurred once. Several dominant and less-dominant denitrifying genotypes were more characteristic of either meadow or forest soils. The majority of nosZ fragments sequenced from meadow or forest soils were most similar to nosZ from the Rhizobiaceae group in α-Proteobacteria species. Denitrifying community composition, as well as environmental factors, may contribute to the variability of denitrification rates in these systems.
doi:10.1128/AEM.69.10.5974-5982.2003
PMCID: PMC201216  PMID: 14532052
18.  Aerobic Denitrifying Bacteria That Produce Low Levels of Nitrous Oxide 
Most denitrifiers produce nitrous oxide (N2O) instead of dinitrogen (N2) under aerobic conditions. We isolated and characterized novel aerobic denitrifiers that produce low levels of N2O under aerobic conditions. We monitored the denitrification activities of two of the isolates, strains TR2 and K50, in batch and continuous cultures. Both strains reduced nitrate (NO3−) to N2 at rates of 0.9 and 0.03 μmol min−1 unit of optical density at 540 nm−1 at dissolved oxygen (O2) (DO) concentrations of 39 and 38 μmol liter−1, respectively. At the same DO level, the typical denitrifier Pseudomonas stutzeri and the previously described aerobic denitrifier Paracoccus denitrificans did not produce N2 but evolved more than 10-fold more N2O than strains TR2 and K50 evolved. The isolates denitrified NO3− with concomitant consumption of O2. These results indicated that strains TR2 and K50 are aerobic denitrifiers. These two isolates were taxonomically placed in the β subclass of the class Proteobacteria and were identified as P. stutzeri TR2 and Pseudomonas sp. strain K50. These strains should be useful for future investigations of the mechanisms of denitrifying bacteria that regulate N2O emission, the single-stage process for nitrogen removal, and microbial N2O emission into the ecosystem.
doi:10.1128/AEM.69.6.3152-3157.2003
PMCID: PMC161530  PMID: 12788710
19.  Diversity of nirK Denitrifying Genes and Transcripts in an Agricultural Soil▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(23):7365-7377.
Environmental conditions can change dramatically over a crop season and among locations in an agricultural field and can increase denitrification and emissions of the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. In a previous study, changes in the overall size of the denitrifier community in a potato crop field were relatively small and did not correlate with variations in environmental conditions or denitrification rates. However, denitrifying bacteria are taxonomically diverse, and different members of the community may respond differently to environmental changes. The objective of this research was to understand which portion of the nirK denitrifying community is active and contributes to denitrification under conditions in a potato crop field. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of nirK genes in soil-extracted DNA showed changes in the composition of the nirK denitrifier community over the growing season and among spatial locations in the field. By contrast, the composition of the active nirK denitrifier community, as determined by DGGE analysis of nirK transcripts derived from soil-extracted mRNA, changed very little over time, although differences in the relative abundance of some specific transcripts were observed between locations. Our results indicate that the soil denitrifier populations bearing nirK genes are not all contributing to denitrification and that the denitrifying populations that are active are among the most abundant and ubiquitous nirK-bearing denitrifiers. Changes in the community composition of the total and active nirK denitrifiers were not strongly correlated with changes in environmental factors and denitrification activity.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01588-09
PMCID: PMC2786405  PMID: 19801455
20.  Isolation and Characterization of Diverse Halobenzoate-Degrading Denitrifying Bacteria from Soils and Sediments 
Denitrifying bacteria capable of degrading halobenzoates were isolated from various geographical and ecological sites. The strains were isolated after initial enrichment on one of the monofluoro-, monochloro-, or monobromo-benzoate isomers with nitrate as an electron acceptor, yielding a total of 33 strains isolated from the different halobenzoate-utilizing enrichment cultures. Each isolate could grow on the selected halobenzoate with nitrate as the terminal electron acceptor. The isolates obtained on 2-fluorobenzoate could use 2-fluorobenzoate under both aerobic and denitrifying conditions, but did not degrade other halobenzoates. In contrast, the 4-fluorobenzoate isolates degraded 4-fluorobenzoate under denitrifying conditions only, but utilized 2-fluorobenzoate under both aerobic and denitrifying conditions. The strains isolated on either 3-chlorobenzoate or 3-bromobenzoate could use 3-chlorobenzoate, 3-bromobenzoate, and 2- and 4-fluorobenzoates under denitrifying conditions. The isolates were identified and classified on the basis of 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis and their cellular fatty acid profiles. They were placed in nine genera belonging to either the α-, β-, or γ-branch of the Proteobacteria, namely, Acidovorax, Azoarcus, Bradyrhizobium, Ochrobactrum, Paracoccus, Pseudomonas, Mesorhizobium, Ensifer, and Thauera. These results indicate that the ability to utilize different halobenzoates under denitrifying conditions is ubiquitously distributed in the Proteobacteria and that these bacteria are widely distributed in soils and sediments.
PMCID: PMC92169  PMID: 10919805
21.  Light scatter characteristics of blast cells in acute myeloid leukaemia: association with morphology and immunophenotype. 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  1995;48(5):456-462.
AIMS--To analyse the forward scatter/side scatter (FSC/SSC) distribution of acute myeloblastic leukaemia (AML) blast cells in order to assess whether it correlates with their morphology, immunophenotype, and clinical and biological disease characteristics. METHODS--FSC/SSC patterns were established upon taking into account the localisation of the residual T lymphocytes in the FSC/SSC dot plot as an internal biological standard. One hundred and seventy one newly diagnosed AML patients were analysed and five different FSC/SSC patterns were established. These five patterns could be grouped into two major categories taking into account the FSC/SSC distribution of normal cells in a bone marrow aspirate: immature patterns (1 and 2) and mature patterns (3, 4, and 5). These FSC/SSC patterns were correlated with different clinical and biological characteristics of AML patients. RESULTS--No significant associations were detected in relation to the clinical and haematological disease characteristics and the prognosis of these patients. By contrast there was a significant correlation between the FSC/SSC pattern of the AML blast cells and the FAB classification. An increased reactivity for the antigens associated with myeloid differentiation such as CD13, CD33, CD11b, CD15, CD14, CD4, CD56, and/or CD16 was detected among cases showing a mature FSC/SSC pattern (3, 4, and 5), both in the whole series and even within each of the FAB AML subtypes. By contrast, the reactivity for the CD34 precursor cell associated antigen was higher among those cases displaying an immature FSC/SSC pattern, this being observed even within each FAB subgroup. CONCLUSIONS--The FSC/SSC pattern distribution of AML blast cells not only provides an additional objective and reproductible system for the classification of these leukaemias but it may also represent a connection between the FAB morphological groups and the immunophenotypic classification of AML patients.
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PMCID: PMC502623  PMID: 7629293
22.  Novel Assay To Assess Permissiveness of a Soil Microbial Community toward Receipt of Mobile Genetic Elements▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(14):4813-4818.
There is a wealth of evidence indicating that mobile genetic elements can spread in natural microbial communities. However, little is known regarding the fraction of the community that actually engages in this behavior. Here we report on a new approach to quantify the fraction of a bacterial community that is able to receive and maintain an exogenous conjugal plasmid termed community permissiveness. Conjugal transfer of a broad-host-range plasmid labeled with a zygotically inducible green fluorescent protein (RP4::gfp) from a donor strain (Pseudomonas putida) to a soil bacterial suspension was examined. The mixture of cells was incubated on membrane filters supported by different solid media. Plasmid transfer was scored by in situ visualization of green fluorescent transconjugant microcolonies, and host range was determined by traditional plating or microcolony isolation by using a micromanipulator. Among the conditions tested, the highest plasmid transfer incidence (approximately 1 transfer per 104 soil bacteria) was measured after 48 h of incubation on either a 10% soil extract or a 10-fold diluted R2A medium. Stereomicroscopy combined with image analysis allowed easy examination and enumeration of green fluorescent microcolonies. In all experiments, however, stereomicroscopy consistently underestimated the number of conjugation events (approximately 10-fold) in comparison to confocal laser scanning microscopy. The plasmid host range was broad and included bacteria belonging to the Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, and Gammaproteobacteria classes of proteobacteria. The isolation of transconjugant microcolonies by micromanipulation greatly extended the estimated plasmid host range among soil bacteria. The new approach can be applied to examine the permissiveness of various communities toward receipt of different mobile elements.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02713-09
PMCID: PMC2901734  PMID: 20511430
23.  Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Ephemeral Wetland Soils are Correlated with Microbial Community Composition 
Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential far exceeding that of CO2. Soil N2O emissions are a product of two microbially mediated processes: nitrification and denitrification. Understanding the effects of landscape on microbial communities, and the subsequent influences of microbial abundance and composition on the processes of nitrification and denitrification are key to predicting future N2O emissions. The objective of this study was to examine microbial abundance and community composition in relation to N2O associated with nitrification and denitrification processes over the course of a growing season in soils from cultivated and uncultivated wetlands. The denitrifying enzyme assay and N15O3− pool dilution methods were used to compare the rates of denitrification and nitrification and their associated N2O emissions. Functional gene composition was measured with restriction fragment length polymorphism profiles and abundance was measured with quantitative polymerase chain reaction. The change in denitrifier nitrous oxide reductase gene (nosZ) abundance and community composition was a good predictor of net soil N2O emission. However, neither ammonia oxidizing bacteria ammonia monooxygenase (bacterial amoA) gene abundance nor composition predicted nitrification-associated-N2O emissions. Alternative strategies might be necessary if bacterial amoA are to be used as predictive in situ indicators of nitrification rate and nitrification-associated-N2O emission.
doi:10.3389/fmicb.2011.00110
PMCID: PMC3114181  PMID: 21712943
bacterial amoA; denitrification; nitrous oxide emissions; nitrification; nosZ; agriculture
24.  Persistence of Denitrifying Enzyme Activity in Dried Soils † 
The effects of air drying soil on denitrifying enzyme activity, denitrifier numbers, and rates of N gas loss from soil cores were measured. Only 29 and 16% of the initial denitrifying enzyme activity in fresh, near field capacity samples of Maury and Donerail soils, respectively, were lost after 7 days of air drying. The denitrifying activity of bacteria added to soil and activity recently formed in situ were not stable during drying. When dried and moist soil cores were irrigated, evolution of N gas began, and it maximized sooner in the dried cores. This suggests that the persistence of denitrifying enzymes permits accelerated denitrification when dried soils are remoistened. Enzyme activity increased significantly in these waterlogged cores, but fluctuations in enzyme activity were small compared with fluctuations in actual denitrification rate, and enzyme activities were always greater than denitrification rates. Apparent numbers of isolatable denitrifiers (most-probable-number counts) decreased more than enzyme activity as the soils were dried, but after the soils were rewetted, the extent of apparent growth was not consistently related to the magnitude of N loss. We hypothesize that activation-inactivation of existing enzymes by soil O2 is of greater significance in transient denitrification events than is growth of denitrifiers or synthesis of new enzymes.
PMCID: PMC238400  PMID: 16346717
25.  N2O-Producing Microorganisms in the Gut of the Earthworm Aporrectodea caliginosa Are Indicative of Ingested Soil Bacteria 
The main objectives of this study were (i) to determine if gut wall-associated microorganisms are responsible for the capacity of earthworms to emit nitrous oxide (N2O) and (ii) to characterize the N2O-producing bacteria of the earthworm gut. The production of N2O in the gut of garden soil earthworms (Aporrectodea caliginosa) was mostly associated with the gut contents rather than the gut wall. Under anoxic conditions, nitrite and N2O were transient products when supplemental nitrate was reduced to N2 by gut content homogenates. In contrast, nitrite and N2O were essentially not produced by nitrate-supplemented soil homogenates. The most probable numbers of fermentative anaerobes and microbes that used nitrate as a terminal electron acceptor were approximately 2 orders of magnitude higher in the earthworm gut than in the soil from which the earthworms originated. The fermentative anaerobes in the gut and soil displayed similar physiological functionalities. A total of 136 N2O-producing isolates that reduced either nitrate or nitrite were obtained from high serial dilutions of gut homogenates. Of the 25 representative N2O-producing isolates that were chosen for characterization, 22 isolates exhibited >99% 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity with their closest cultured relatives, which in most cases was a soil bacterium, most isolates were affiliated with the gamma subclass of the class Proteobacteria or with the gram-positive bacteria with low DNA G+C contents, and 5 isolates were denitrifiers and reduced nitrate to N2O or N2. The initial N2O production rates of denitrifiers were 1 to 2 orders of magnitude greater than those of the nondenitrifying isolates. However, most nondenitrifying nitrate dissimilators produced nitrite and might therefore indirectly stimulate the production of N2O via nitrite-utilizing denitrifiers in the gut. The results of this study suggest that most of the N2O emitted by earthworms is due to the activation of ingested denitrifiers and other nitrate-dissimilating bacteria in the gut lumen.
doi:10.1128/AEM.69.3.1655-1661.2003
PMCID: PMC150113  PMID: 12620856

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