An appraisal of methods for linking environmental processes to specific microbial taxa


DOI: 10.1007/s11157-010-9205-8

Cite this article as:
Gutierrez-Zamora, ML. & Manefield, M. Rev Environ Sci Biotechnol (2010) 9: 153. doi:10.1007/s11157-010-9205-8


The last decade has witnessed a revolution in the development of methods and technology available to investigate the ecological roles of microorganisms in the environment. As a consequence, microbial ecologists have gained a better understanding of the functional aspects of microorganisms in marine, groundwater and freshwater systems, soils, sediments, hot springs, wastewater treatment plants, landfills, the rhizosphere and the animal gut. This review provides a compilation and critical comparison of the currently available methods linking microbial function with phylogeny, including a description and advantages and limitations of each method. Examples are also provided to illustrate their application. The ongoing improvements of these ‘function-identity’ methods points to a bright future in our understanding of complex ecological processes and to improved management of microbe dependent ecosystem services.


Function-identity methodsIsotope probingFISHNanoSIMSIsotope arrayRamanSSU-IRMS

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Marine BioInnovation, School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular SciencesUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia