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1.  DNA is preserved and maintains transforming potential after contact with brines of the deep anoxic hypersaline lakes of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea 
Saline Systems  2008;4:10.
Background
Extracellular dissolved DNA has been demonstrated to be present in many terrestrial and aquatic environments, actively secreted, or released by decaying cells. Free DNA has the genetic potential to be acquired by living competent cells by horizontal gene transfer mediated by natural transformation. The aim of this work is to study the persistence of extracellular DNA and its biological transforming activity in extreme environments like the deep hypersaline anoxic lakes of the Mediterranean Sea. The brine lakes are separated from the upper seawater by a steep chemocline inhabited by stratified prokaryotic networks, where cells sinking through the depth profile encounter increasing salinity values and osmotic stress.
Results
Seven strains belonging to different taxonomic groups isolated from the seawater-brine interface of four hypersaline lakes were grown at medium salinity and then incubated in the brines. The osmotic stress induced the death of all the inoculated cells in variable time periods, between 2 hours and 144 days, depending on the type of brine rather than the taxonomic group of the strains, i.e. Bacillaceae or gamma-proteobacteria. The Discovery lake confirmed to be the most aggressive environment toward living cells. In all the brines and in deep seawater dissolved plasmid DNA was substantially preserved for a period of 32 days in axenic conditions. L'Atalante and Bannock brines induced a decrease of the supercoiled form up to 70 and 40% respectively; in the other brines only minor changes in plasmid conformation were observed. Plasmid DNA after incubation in the brines maintained the capacity to transform naturally competent cells of Acinetobacter baylii strain BD413.
Conclusion
Free dissolved DNA is likely to be released by the lysis of cells induced by osmotic stress in the deep hypersaline anoxic lakes. Naked DNA was demonstrated to be preserved and biologically active in these extreme environments, and hence could constitute a genetic reservoir of traits acquirable by horizontal gene transfer.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-4-10
PMCID: PMC2531117  PMID: 18681968
2.  Comparison of Different Primer Sets for Use in Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis of Complex Bacterial Communities 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2004;70(10):6147-6156.
ITSF and ITSReub, constituting a new primer set designed for the amplification of the 16S-23S rRNA intergenic transcribed spacers, have been compared with primer sets consisting of 1406F and 23Sr (M. M. Fisher and E. W. Triplett, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 65:4630-4636, 1999) and S-D-Bact-1522-b-S-20 and L-D-Bact-132-a-A-18 (L. Ranjard et al., Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 67:4479-4487, 2001), previously proposed for automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis (ARISA) of complex bacterial communities. An agricultural soil and a polluted soil, maize silage, goat milk, a small marble sample from the façade of the Certosa of Pavia (Pavia, Italy), and brine from a deep hypersaline anoxic basin in the Mediterranean Sea were analyzed with the three primer sets. The number of peaks in the ARISA profiles, the range of peak size (width of the profile), and the reproducibility of results were used as indices to evaluate the efficiency of the three primer sets. The overall data showed that ITSF and ITSReub generated the most informative (in term of peak number) and reproducible profiles and yielded a wider range of spacer sizes (134 to 1,387) than the other primer sets, which were limited in detecting long fragments. The minimum amount of DNA template and sensitivity in detection of minor DNA populations were evaluated with artificial mixtures of defined bacterial species. ITSF and ITSReub amplified all the bacteria at DNA template concentrations from 280 to 0.14 ng μl−1, while the other primer sets failed to detect the spacers of one or more bacterial strains. Although the primer set consisting of ITSF and ITSReub and that of S-D-Bact-1522-b-S-20 and L-D-Bact-132-a-A-18 showed similar sensitivities for the DNA of Allorhizobium undicula mixed with the DNA of other species, the S-D-Bact-1522-b-S-20 and L-D-Bact-132-a-A-18 primer set failed to detect the DNA of Pseudomonas stutzeri.
doi:10.1128/AEM.70.10.6147-6156.2004
PMCID: PMC522057  PMID: 15466561

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