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1.  Linking microbial community structure to β-glucosidic function in soil aggregates 
The ISME Journal  2013;7(10):2044-2053.
To link microbial community 16S structure to a measured function in a natural soil, we have scaled both DNA and β-glucosidase assays down to a volume of soil that may approach a unique microbial community. β-Glucosidase activity was assayed in 450 individual aggregates, which were then sorted into classes of high or low activities, from which groups of 10 or 11 aggregates were identified and grouped for DNA extraction and pyrosequencing. Tandem assays of ATP were conducted for each aggregate in order to normalize these small groups of aggregates for biomass size. In spite of there being no significant differences in the richness or diversity of the microbial communities associated with high β-glucosidase activities compared with the communities associated with low β-glucosidase communities, several analyses of variance clearly show that the communities of these two groups differ. The separation of these groups is partially driven by the differential abundances of members of the Chitinophagaceae family. It may be observed that functional differences in otherwise similar soil aggregates can be largely attributed to differences in resource availability, rather than to the presence or absence of particular taxonomic groups.
PMCID: PMC3965315  PMID: 23719152
microbial community; diversity; 16S pyrosequencing; beta-glucosidase; soil aggregates; ATP
2.  Identifying Low pH Active and Lactate-Utilizing Taxa within Oral Microbiome Communities from Healthy Children Using Stable Isotope Probing Techniques 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32219.
Many human microbial infectious diseases including dental caries are polymicrobial in nature. How these complex multi-species communities evolve from a healthy to a diseased state is not well understood. Although many health- or disease-associated oral bacteria have been characterized in vitro, their physiology within the complex oral microbiome is difficult to determine with current approaches. In addition, about half of these species remain uncultivated to date with little known besides their 16S rRNA sequence. Lacking culture-based physiological analyses, the functional roles of uncultivated species will remain enigmatic despite their apparent disease correlation. To start addressing these knowledge gaps, we applied a combination of Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) with RNA and DNA based Stable Isotope Probing (SIP) to oral plaque communities from healthy children for in vitro temporal monitoring of metabolites and identification of metabolically active and inactive bacterial species.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Supragingival plaque samples from caries-free children incubated with 13C-substrates under imposed healthy (buffered, pH 7) and diseased states (pH 5.5 and pH 4.5) produced lactate as the dominant organic acid from glucose metabolism. Rapid lactate utilization upon glucose depletion was observed under pH 7 conditions. SIP analyses revealed a number of genera containing cultured and uncultivated taxa with metabolic capabilities at pH 5.5. The diversity of active species decreased significantly at pH 4.5 and was dominated by Lactobacillus and Propionibacterium species, both of which have been previously found within carious lesions from children.
Our approach allowed for identification of species that metabolize carbohydrates under different pH conditions and supports the importance of Lactobacilli and Propionibacterium in the development of childhood caries. Identification of species within healthy subjects that are active at low pH can lead to a better understanding of oral caries onset and generate appropriate targets for preventative measures in the early stages.
PMCID: PMC3293899  PMID: 22403637

Results 1-2 (2)