, Volume 170, Issue 4, pp 243-251

High genetic and physiological diversity of sulfate-reducing bacteria isolated from an oligotrophic lake sediment

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The community structure of sulfate-reducing bacteria in littoral and profundal sediments of the oligotrophic Lake Stechlin (Germany) was investigated. A collection of 32 strains was isolated from the highest positive dilutions of most-probable-number series, and their partial 16S rRNA gene sequences and genomic fingerprints based on ERIC (enterobacterial repetitive intergenic consensus)-PCR were analyzed. The strains fell into eight distinct phylogenetic lineages, and the majority (70%) showed a close affiliation to the genus Desulfovibrio. Most of the remaining strains (22%) were related to the gram-positive Sporomusa and Desulfotomaculum groups. A high redundancy of 16S rRNA gene sequences was found within several of the phylogenetic lineages. This low phylogenetic diversity was most pronounced for the subset of strains isolated from oxic sediment layers. ERIC-PCR revealed that most of the strains with identical 16S rRNA gene sequences were genetically different. Since strains with identical 16S rRNA gene sequences but different genomic fingerprints also differed considerably with respect to their physiological capabilities, the high diversity detected in the present work is very likely of ecological relevance. Our results indicate that a high diversity of sulfate-reducing bacterial strains can be recovered from the natural environment using the established cultivation media.

Received: 20 April 1998 / Accepted: 12 June 1998