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1.  Symbiont-driven sulfur crystal formation in a thiotrophic symbiosis from deep-sea hydrocarbon seeps 
The siboglinid tubeworm Sclerolinum contortum symbiosis inhabits sulfidic sediments at deep-sea hydrocarbon seeps in the Gulf of Mexico. A single symbiont phylotype in the symbiont-housing organ is inferred from phylogenetic analyses of the 16S ribosomal ribonucleic acid (16S rRNA) gene and fluorescent in situ hybridization. The phylotype we studied here, and a previous study from an arctic hydrocarbon seep population, reveal identical 16S rRNA symbiont gene sequences. While sulfide is apparently the energy source for the symbionts (and ultimately the gutless host), both partners also have to cope with its toxicity. This study demonstrates abundant large sulfur crystals restricted to the trophosome area. Based on Raman microspectroscopy and energy dispersive X-ray analysis, these crystals have the same S8 sulfur configuration as the recently described small sulfur vesicles formed in the symbionts. The crystals reside adjacent to the symbionts in the trophosome. This suggests that their formation is either extra- or intracellular in symbionts. We propose that formation of these crystals provides both energy-storage compounds for the symbionts and serves the symbiosis by removing excess toxic sulfide from host tissues. This symbiont-mediated sulfide detoxification may have been crucial for the establishment of thiotrophic symbiosis and continues to remain an important function of the symbionts.
PMCID: PMC4232855  PMID: 24992535
2.  Enrichment and Genome Sequence of the Group I.1a Ammonia-Oxidizing Archaeon “Ca. Nitrosotenuis uzonensis” Representing a Clade Globally Distributed in Thermal Habitats 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80835.
The discovery of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) of the phylum Thaumarchaeota and the high abundance of archaeal ammonia monooxygenase subunit A encoding gene sequences in many environments have extended our perception of nitrifying microbial communities. Moreover, AOA are the only aerobic ammonia oxidizers known to be active in geothermal environments. Molecular data indicate that in many globally distributed terrestrial high-temperature habits a thaumarchaeotal lineage within the Nitrosopumilus cluster (also called “marine” group I.1a) thrives, but these microbes have neither been isolated from these systems nor functionally characterized in situ yet. In this study, we report on the enrichment and genomic characterization of a representative of this lineage from a thermal spring in Kamchatka. This thaumarchaeote, provisionally classified as “Candidatus Nitrosotenuis uzonensis”, is a moderately thermophilic, non-halophilic, chemolithoautotrophic ammonia oxidizer. The nearly complete genome sequence (assembled into a single scaffold) of this AOA confirmed the presence of the typical thaumarchaeotal pathways for ammonia oxidation and carbon fixation, and indicated its ability to produce coenzyme F420 and to chemotactically react to its environment. Interestingly, like members of the genus Nitrosoarchaeum, “Candidatus N. uzonensis” also possesses a putative artubulin-encoding gene. Genome comparisons to related AOA with available genome sequences confirmed that the newly cultured AOA has an average nucleotide identity far below the species threshold and revealed a substantial degree of genomic plasticity with unique genomic regions in “Ca. N. uzonensis”, which potentially include genetic determinants of ecological niche differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3835317  PMID: 24278328
3.  Intracellular Vesicles as Reproduction Elements in Cell Wall-Deficient L-Form Bacteria 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38514.
Cell wall-deficient bacteria, or L-forms, represent an extreme example of bacterial plasticity. Stable L-forms can multiply and propagate indefinitely in the absence of a cell wall. Data presented here are consistent with the model that intracellular vesicles in Listeria monocytogenes L-form cells represent the actual viable reproductive elements. First, small intracellular vesicles are formed along the mother cell cytoplasmic membrane, originating from local phospholipid accumulation. During growth, daughter vesicles incorporate a small volume of the cellular cytoplasm, and accumulate within volume-expanding mother cells. Confocal Raman microspectroscopy demonstrated the presence of nucleic acids and proteins in all intracellular vesicles, but only a fraction of which reveals metabolic activity. Following collapse of the mother cell and release of the daughter vesicles, they can establish their own membrane potential required for respiratory and metabolic processes. Premature depolarization of the surrounding membrane promotes activation of daughter cell metabolism prior to release. Based on genome resequencing of L-forms and comparison to the parental strain, we found no evidence for predisposing mutations that might be required for L-form transition. Further investigations revealed that propagation by intracellular budding not only occurs in Listeria species, but also in L-form cells generated from different Enterococcus species. From a more general viewpoint, this type of multiplication mechanism seems reminiscent of the physicochemical self-reproducing properties of abiotic lipid vesicles used to study the primordial reproduction pathways of putative prokaryotic precursor cells.
PMCID: PMC3368840  PMID: 22701656
4.  Dysconnectivity of multiple resting-state networks in patients with schizophrenia who have persistent auditory verbal hallucinations 
Functional neuroimaging studies on schizophrenia have suggested abnormal task-related functional connectivity in patients with schizophrenia who have auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs). However, little is known about intrinsic functional connectivity in these patients.
Between January 2009 and February 2010, we studied patients with schizophrenia who had persistent and treatment-refractory AVHs in comparison with healthy controls. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we studied the functional connectivity of multiple resting state networks (RSNs) and their relation to symptom severity. We analyzed the data using a spatial group independent component analysis, and we used random-effects t tests to compare spatial components between groups.
There were 10 patients and 14 controls enrolled in this study. In total, 16 RSNs were identified, from which we selected 4 networks of interest for further analyses. Within a speech-related network, patients showed increased connectivity in bilateral temporal regions and decreased connectivity in the cingulate cortex. Within 2 additional RSNs associated with attention and executive control, respectively, patients exhibited abnormal connectivity in the precuneus and right lateral prefrontal areas. We found correlations between measures of AVH severity and functional connectivity of the left anterior cingulate, left superior temporal gyrus and right lateral prefrontal cortex.
The relatively small sample size, the patients’ use of antipsychotic medication and the lack of a clinical control group have to be considered as potential limitations.
Our findings indicate that disrupted intrinsic connectivity of a speech-related network could underlie persistent AVHs in patients with schizophrenia. In addition, the occurrence of hallucinatory symptoms seems to modulate RSNs associated with attention and executive control.
PMCID: PMC3201990  PMID: 21791169
5.  Aberrant connectivity of resting-state networks in borderline personality disorder 
Several functional neuroimaging studies have reported regionally abnormal activation of the frontal cortex in individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) during cognitive and affective task performance. However, little is known about neural function in individuals with BPD during the resting state. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), this study investigated the functional connectivity of prefrontal and limbic networks in patients with BPD.
Between January 2009 and March 2010, we investigated patients with BPD according to DSM-IV criteria and healthy controls by means of resting-state fMRI. The data were analyzed using a spatial group independent component analysis, and random effects t tests were used to compare spatial components between groups (p < 0.005, uncorrected).
There were 17 women with BPD and 17 female healthy controls enrolled in this study. Within a network comprising cortical midline regions (“default mode network”), patients with BPD showed an increase in functional connectivity in the left frontopolar cortex (FPC) and the left insula, whereas decreased connectivity was found in the left cuneus. Within a network comprising predominantly right lateral prefrontal and bilateral parietal regions, patients with BPD showed decreased connectivity of the left inferior parietal lobule and the right middle temporal cortex compared with healthy controls. Two networks comprising lateral prefrontal and cingulate regions did not exhibit significant between-group differences. We found correlations between functional connectivity of the FPC and measures of impulsivity as well as between connectivity of the insula/cuneus and dissociation tension.
Co-occurrent axis I disorders and medication use in this sample of patients with BPD have to be considered as potential limitations.
These data suggest that abnormal functional connectivity of temporally coherent resting-state networks may underlie certain symptom clusters in patients with BPD.
PMCID: PMC3201994  PMID: 21406160
6.  Microanatomy of the trophosome region of Paracatenula cf. polyhymnia (Catenulida, Platyhelminthes) and its intracellular symbionts 
Zoomorphology  2011;130(4):261-271.
Marine catenulid platyhelminths of the genus Paracatenula lack mouth, pharynx and gut. They live in a symbiosis with intracellular bacteria which are restricted to the body region posterior to the brain. The symbiont-housing cells (bacteriocytes) collectively form the trophosome tissue, which functionally replaces the digestive tract. It constitutes the largest part of the body and is the most important synapomorphy of this group. While some other features of the Paracatenula anatomy have already been analyzed, an in-depth analysis of the trophosome region was missing. Here, we identify and characterize the composition of the trophosome and its surrounding tissue by analyzing series of ultra-thin cross-sections of the species Paracatenula cf. polyhymnia. For the first time, a protonephridium is detected in a Paracatenula species, but it is morphologically reduced and most likely not functional. Cells containing needle-like inclusions in the reference species Paracatenula polyhymnia Sterrer and Rieger, 1974 were thought to be sperm, and the inclusions interpreted as the sperm nucleus. Our analysis of similar cells and their inclusions by EDX and Raman microspectroscopy documents an inorganic spicule consisting of a unique magnesium–phosphate compound. Furthermore, we identify the neoblast stem cells located underneath the epidermis. Except for the modifications due to the symbiotic lifestyle and the enigmatic spicule cells, the organization of Paracatenula cf. polyhymnia conforms to that of the Catenulida in all studied aspects. Therefore, this species represents an excellent model system for further studies of host adaptation to an obligate symbiotic lifestyle.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00435-011-0135-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3213344  PMID: 22131640
Platyhelminthes; Symbiosis; Paracatenula; Ultrastructure; Trophosome
7.  FACIL: Fast and Accurate Genetic Code Inference and Logo 
Bioinformatics  2011;27(14):1929-1933.
Motivation: The intensification of DNA sequencing will increasingly unveil uncharacterized species with potential alternative genetic codes. A total of 0.65% of the DNA sequences currently in Genbank encode their proteins with a variant genetic code, and these exceptions occur in many unrelated taxa.
Results: We introduce FACIL (Fast and Accurate genetic Code Inference and Logo), a fast and reliable tool to evaluate nucleic acid sequences for their genetic code that detects alternative codes even in species distantly related to known organisms. To illustrate this, we apply FACIL to a set of mitochondrial genomic contigs of Globobulimina pseudospinescens. This foraminifer does not have any sequenced close relative in the databases, yet we infer its alternative genetic code with high confidence values. Results are intuitively visualized in a Genetic Code Logo.
Availability and implementation: FACIL is available as a web-based service at and as a stand-alone program.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3129529  PMID: 21653513
8.  Nuclei of Tsuga canadensis: Role of Flavanols in Chromatin Organization 
Needle primordia of Tsuga canadensis (hemlock) arising from flank meristems of a shoot apex, form cell lineages consisting of four or eight cells. Within a recently established lineage there is striking uniformity in the pattern of nuclear flavanols. This fact points to an identical transcriptional expression of these flavanols during cell cycling. However two lineages, even if located close together within the same meristem, can be very different in the expression of both cell shape and nuclear flavanol pattern, indicating that epigenetic positional signals are operating in a collective specification of cell lineage development. There is a wide range of nuclear flavanol patterning from a mosaic-like distribution in an activated cell type to a homogenous appearance in silenced cell types. Single cells deriving from lineages are desynchronized because they underlie a signaling network at a higher tissue level which results in stronger epigenetic modifications of their nuclear flavanols. As an extreme case of epigenetic modulation, transient drought conditions caused a drastic reduction of nuclear flavanols. Upon treatment with sucrose or cytokinin, these nuclear flavanols could be fully restored. Analytical determination of the flavanols revealed 3.4 mg/g DW for newly sprouting needles and 19.6 mg/g DW for anthers during meiosis. The roughly 6-fold difference in flavanols is apparently a reflection of the highly diverging organogenetic processes. Collectively, the studies provide strong evidence for combinatorial interplay between cell fate and nuclear flavanols.
PMCID: PMC3211013  PMID: 22072922
nuclei; flavanols; chromatin; cell cycling; meiosis
9.  Trehalose-6-Phosphate: Connecting Plant Metabolism and Development 
Beyond their metabolic roles, sugars can also act as messengers in signal transduction. Trehalose, a sugar found in many species of plants and animals, is a non-reducing disaccharide composed of two glucose moieties. Its synthesis in plants is a two-step process, involving the production of trehalose-6-phosphate (T6P) catalyzed by trehalose-6-phosphate synthase (TPS) and its consecutive dephosphorylation to trehalose, catalyzed by trehalose-6-phosphate phosphatase (TPP). T6P has recently emerged as an important signaling metabolite, regulating carbon assimilation and sugar status in plants. In addition, T6P has also been demonstrated to play an essential role in plant development. This review recapitulates the recent advances we have made in understanding the role of T6P in coordinating diverse metabolic and developmental processes.
PMCID: PMC3355582  PMID: 22639606
trehalose; trehalose-6-phosphate; TPS; TPP; development
10.  The FANTASTIC FOUR proteins influence shoot meristem size in Arabidopsis thaliana 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:285.
Throughout their lives plants produce new organs from groups of pluripotent cells called meristems, located at the tips of the shoot and the root. The size of the shoot meristem is tightly controlled by a feedback loop, which involves the homeodomain transcription factor WUSCHEL (WUS) and the CLAVATA (CLV) proteins. This regulatory circuit is further fine-tuned by morphogenic signals such as hormones and sugars.
Here we show that a family of four plant-specific proteins, encoded by the FANTASTIC FOUR (FAF) genes, has the potential to regulate shoot meristem size in Arabidopsis thaliana. FAF2 and FAF4 are expressed in the centre of the shoot meristem, overlapping with the site of WUS expression. Consistent with a regulatory interaction between the FAF gene family and WUS, our experiments indicate that the FAFs can repress WUS, which ultimately leads to an arrest of meristem activity in FAF overexpressing lines. The finding that meristematic expression of FAF2 and FAF4 is under negative control by CLV3 further supports the hypothesis that the FAFs are modulators of the genetic circuit that regulates the meristem.
This study reports the initial characterization of the Arabidopsis thaliana FAF gene family. Our data indicate that the FAF genes form a plant specific gene family, the members of which have the potential to regulate the size of the shoot meristem by modulating the CLV3-WUS feedback loop.
PMCID: PMC3023791  PMID: 21176196
11.  Tomophobia, the phobic fear caused by an invasive medical procedure - an emerging anxiety disorder: a case report 
Tomophobia refers to fear or anxiety caused by forthcoming surgical procedures and/or medical interventions.
Case presentation
We present the case of a 69-year-old Caucasian man who refused urgently indicated medical intervention because of severe tomophobia.
Due to the rising number of surgical interventions in modern medicine, as well as the high number of unrecognised cases of tomophobia, this common but underdiagnosed anxiety disorder should be highlighted.
PMCID: PMC2803803  PMID: 20062769
12.  Repression of Flowering by the miR172 Target SMZ 
PLoS Biology  2009;7(7):e1000148.
The flowering repressors SMZ and FLM, members of the AP-2 and MADS domain transcription factor families, unexpectedly work together to regulate flowering time via their effects on expression of the FT gene.
A small mobile protein, encoded by the FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) locus, plays a central role in the control of flowering. FT is regulated positively by CONSTANS (CO), the output of the photoperiod pathway, and negatively by FLC, which integrates the effects of prolonged cold exposure. Here, we reveal the mechanisms of regulation by the microRNA miR172 target SCHLAFMÜTZE (SMZ), a potent repressor of flowering. Whole-genome mapping of SMZ binding sites demonstrates not only direct regulation of FT, but also of many other flowering time regulators acting both upstream and downstream of FT, indicating an important role of miR172 and its targets in fine tuning the flowering response. A role for the miR172/SMZ module as a rheostat in flowering time is further supported by SMZ binding to several other genes encoding miR172 targets. Finally, we show that the action of SMZ is completely dependent on another floral repressor, FLM, providing the first direct connection between two important classes of flowering time regulators, AP2- and MADS-domain proteins.
Author Summary
Flowering is a pivotal event in the life cycle of many plants and is therefore under tight control. The ability to detect the daily photoperiod is of particular importance in many plant species, as it enables them to enter the reproductive phase in response to seasonal changes in day length. When the photoperiod is permissive to flowering, a signal is produced in leaves that is transported to the shoot meristem, where it initiates the formation of flowers. It is now widely accepted that an important component of this long-distance signal is the flowering protein FT. Here, we show that the AP2-like transcription factor SMZ, which represses flowering and is a target of the regulatory miRNA172 microRNA, functions together with related proteins to directly regulate FT expression. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled to genome tiling arrays, we find that SMZ binds directly to the FT genomic locus and to several other key flowering-related loci. Unexpectedly, the ability of SMZ to repress flowering strictly depends on the presence of the MADS-domain transcription factor FLM. In addition, SMZ binds to its own regulatory sequences and those of three closely related genes, providing evidence of strong negative feedback between SMZ and the other AP2-like miRNA172 targets.
PMCID: PMC2701598  PMID: 19582143
13.  Diversity of Flowering Responses in Wild Arabidopsis thaliana Strains 
PLoS Genetics  2005;1(1):e6.
Although multiple environmental cues regulate the transition to flowering in Arabidopsis thaliana, previous studies have suggested that wild A. thaliana accessions fall primarily into two classes, distinguished by their requirement for vernalization (extended winter-like temperatures), which enables rapid flowering under long days. Much of the difference in vernalization response is apparently due to variation at two epistatically acting loci, FRI and FLC. We present the response of over 150 wild accessions to three different environmental variables. In long days, FLC is among those genes whose expression is most highly correlated with flowering. In short days, FRI and FLC are less important, although their contribution is still significant. In addition, there is considerable variation not only in vernalization response, but also in the response to differences in day length or ambient growth temperature. The identification of accessions that flower relatively early or late in specific environments suggests that many of the flowering-time pathways identified by mutagenesis, such as those that respond to day length, contribute to flowering-time variation in the wild. In contrast to differences in vernalization requirement, which are mainly mediated by FRI and FLC, it seems that variation in these other pathways is due to allelic effects at several different loci.
Flowering is a quintessential adaptive trait in plants: Its correct timing ensures, for example, that plants do not produce seeds when they will not find favorable conditions for dispersal or germination. Befitting its importance, flowering is affected by several different environmental variables. The authors have compared the flowering times of over 150 Arabidopsis thaliana wild strains in response to three environmental factors: ambient growth temperature, day length, and vernalization (extended winter-like temperatures). Genetic and molecular analyses confirmed the important role of the previously identified FRI and FLC genes in flowering time. Genome-wide expression studies showed that FLC is among the genes whose expression is most highly correlated with flowering. Their studies, however, also revealed that the impact of FRI and FLC depends not only on vernalization treatment, which leads to repression of FRI and FLC activity, but also on day length. Within the groups of relatively early- and late-flowering strains, they find several unique responses, suggesting that many of the signaling pathways identified in mutant studies of laboratory strains are also being used to generate flowering diversity in the wild.
PMCID: PMC1183525  PMID: 16103920
15.  Propionate Oxidation by and Methanol Inhibition of Anaerobic Ammonium-Oxidizing Bacteria 
Anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox) is a recently discovered microbial pathway and a cost-effective way to remove ammonium from wastewater. Anammox bacteria have been described as obligate chemolithoautotrophs. However, many chemolithoautotrophs (i.e., nitrifiers) can use organic compounds as a supplementary carbon source. In this study, the effect of organic compounds on anammox bacteria was investigated. It was shown that alcohols inhibited anammox bacteria, while organic acids were converted by them. Methanol was the most potent inhibitor, leading to complete and irreversible loss of activity at concentrations as low as 0.5 mM. Of the organic acids acetate and propionate, propionate was consumed at a higher rate (0.8 nmol min−1 mg of protein−1) by Percoll-purified anammox cells. Glucose, formate, and alanine had no effect on the anammox process. It was shown that propionate was oxidized mainly to CO2, with nitrate and/or nitrite as the electron acceptor. The anammox bacteria carried out propionate oxidation simultaneously with anaerobic ammonium oxidation. In an anammox enrichment culture fed with propionate for 150 days, the relative amounts of anammox cells and denitrifiers did not change significantly over time, indicating that anammox bacteria could compete successfully with heterotrophic denitrifiers for propionate. In conclusion, this study shows that anammox bacteria have a more versatile metabolism than previously assumed.
PMCID: PMC546716  PMID: 15691967
16.  Visualization of N-Acylhomoserine Lactone-Mediated Cell-Cell Communication between Bacteria Colonizing the Tomato Rhizosphere 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2001;67(12):5761-5770.
Given that a large proportion of the bacteria colonizing the roots of plants is capable of producing N-acyl-l-homoserine lactone (AHL) molecules, it appears likely that these bacterial pheromones may serve as signals for communication between cells of different species. In this study, we have developed and characterized novel Gfp-based monitor strains that allow in situ visualization of AHL-mediated communication between individual cells in the plant rhizosphere. For this purpose, three Gfp-based AHL sensor plasmids that respond to different spectra of AHL molecules were transferred into AHL-negative derivatives of Pseudomonas putida IsoF and Serratia liquefaciens MG1, two strains that are capable of colonizing tomato roots. These AHL monitor strains were used to visualize communication between defined bacterial populations in the rhizosphere of axenically grown tomato plants. Furthermore, we integrated into the chromosome of AHL-negative P. putida strain F117 an AHL sensor cassette that responds to the presence of long-chain AHLs with the expression of Gfp. This monitor strain was used to demonstrate that the indigenous bacterial community colonizing the roots of tomato plants growing in nonsterile soil produces AHL molecules. The results strongly support the view that AHL signal molecules serve as a universal language for communication between the different bacterial populations of the rhizosphere consortium.
PMCID: PMC93370  PMID: 11722933
17.  Phylogeny of All Recognized Species of Ammonia Oxidizers Based on Comparative 16S rRNA and amoA Sequence Analysis: Implications for Molecular Diversity Surveys 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2000;66(12):5368-5382.
The current perception of evolutionary relationships and the natural diversity of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) is mainly based on comparative sequence analyses of their genes encoding the 16S rRNA and the active site polypeptide of the ammonia monooxygenase (AmoA). However, only partial 16S rRNA sequences are available for many AOB species and most AOB have not yet been analyzed on the amoA level. In this study, the 16S rDNA sequence data of 10 Nitrosomonas species and Nitrosococcus mobilis were completed. Furthermore, previously unavailable 16S rRNA sequences were determined for three Nitrosomonas sp. isolates and for the gamma-subclass proteobacterium Nitrosococcus halophilus. These data were used to revaluate the specificities of published oligonucleotide primers and probes for AOB. In addition, partial amoA sequences of 17 AOB, including the above-mentioned 15 AOB, were obtained. Comparative phylogenetic analyses suggested similar but not identical evolutionary relationships of AOB by using 16S rRNA and AmoA as marker molecules, respectively. The presented 16S rRNA and amoA and AmoA sequence data from all recognized AOB species significantly extend the currently used molecular classification schemes for AOB and now provide a more robust phylogenetic framework for molecular diversity inventories of AOB. For 16S rRNA-independent evaluation of AOB species-level diversity in environmental samples, amoA and AmoA sequence similarity threshold values were determined which can be used to tentatively identify novel species based on cloned amoA sequences. Subsequently, 122 amoA sequences were obtained from 11 nitrifying wastewater treatment plants. Phylogenetic analyses of the molecular isolates showed that in all but two plants only nitrosomonads could be detected. Although several of the obtained amoA sequences were only relatively distantly related to known AOB, none of these sequences unequivocally suggested the existence of previously unrecognized species in the wastewater treatment environments examined.
PMCID: PMC92470  PMID: 11097916
18.  Combined Molecular and Conventional Analyses of Nitrifying Bacterium Diversity in Activated Sludge: Nitrosococcus mobilis and Nitrospira-Like Bacteria as Dominant Populations 
The ammonia-oxidizing and nitrite-oxidizing bacterial populations occurring in the nitrifying activated sludge of an industrial wastewater treatment plant receiving sewage with high ammonia concentrations were studied by use of a polyphasic approach. In situ hybridization with a set of hierarchical 16S rRNA-targeted probes for ammonia-oxidizing bacteria revealed the dominance of Nitrosococcus mobilis-like bacteria. The phylogenetic affiliation suggested by fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) was confirmed by isolation of N. mobilis as the numerically dominant ammonia oxidizer and subsequent comparative 16S rRNA gene (rDNA) sequence and DNA-DNA hybridization analyses. For molecular fine-scale analysis of the ammonia-oxidizing population, a partial stretch of the gene encoding the active-site polypeptide of ammonia monooxygenase (amoA) was amplified from total DNA extracted from ammonia oxidizer isolates and from activated sludge. However, comparative sequence analysis of 13 amoA clone sequences from activated sludge demonstrated that these sequences were highly similar to each other and to the corresponding amoA gene fragments of Nitrosomonas europaea Nm50 and the N. mobilis isolate. The unexpected high sequence similarity between the amoA gene fragments of the N. mobilis isolate and N. europaea indicates a possible lateral gene transfer event. Although a Nitrobacter strain was isolated, members of the nitrite-oxidizing genus Nitrobacter were not detectable in the activated sludge by in situ hybridization. Therefore, we used the rRNA approach to investigate the abundance of other well-known nitrite-oxidizing bacterial genera. Three different methods were used for DNA extraction from the activated sludge. For each DNA preparation, almost full-length genes encoding small-subunit rRNA were separately amplified and used to generate three 16S rDNA libraries. By comparative sequence analysis, 2 of 60 randomly selected clones could be assigned to the nitrite-oxidizing bacteria of the genus Nitrospira. Based on these clone sequences, a specific 16S rRNA-targeted probe was developed. FISH of the activated sludge with this probe demonstrated that Nitrospira-like bacteria were present in significant numbers (9% of the total bacterial counts) and frequently occurred in coaggregated microcolonies with N. mobilis.
PMCID: PMC106813  PMID: 9687471

Results 1-18 (18)