Microbial Ecology

, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 479–486 | Cite as

Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis Can Rapidly Display the Bacterial Diversity Contained in 16S rDNA Clone Libraries

  • M. D. BurrEmail author
  • S. J. Clark
  • C. R. Spear
  • A. K. Camper


Two different strategies for molecular analysis of bacterial diversity, 16S rDNA cloning and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), were combined into a single protocol that took advantage of the best attributes of each: the ability of cloning to package DNA sequence information and the ability of DGGE to display a community profile. In this combined protocol, polymerase chain reaction products from environmental DNA were cloned, and then DGGE was used to screen the clone libraries. Both individual clones and pools of randomly selected clones were analyzed by DGGE, and these migration patterns were compared to the conventional DGGE profile produced directly from environmental DNA. For two simple bacterial communities (biofilm from a humics-fed laboratory reactor and planktonic bacteria filtered from an urban freshwater pond), pools of 35–50 clones produced DGGE profiles that contained most of the bands visible in the conventional DGGE profiles, indicating that the clone pools were adequate for identifying the dominant genotypes. However, DGGE profiles of two different pools of 50 clones from a lawn soil clone library were distinctly different from each other and from the conventional DGGE profile, indicating that this small number of clones poorly represented the bacterial diversity in soil. Individual clones with the same apparent DGGE mobility as prominent bands in the humics reactor community profiles were sequenced from the clone plasmid DNA rather than from bands excised from the gel. Because a longer fragment was cloned (∼1500 bp) than was actually analyzed in DGGE (∼350 bp), far more sequence information was available using this approach that could have been recovered from an excised gel band. This clone/DGGE protocol permitted rapid analysis of the microbial diversity in the two moderately complex systems, but was limited in its ability to represent the diversity in the soil microbial community. Nonetheless, clone/DGGE is a promising strategy for fractionating diverse microbial communities into manageable subsets consisting of small pools of clones.


Clone Library Individual Clone Dominant Band Freshwater Pond Clone Pool 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors acknowledge contributions from Richard Veeh, Mark McBroom, and Jennifer Sestrich. Funding was administered through the US Department of Defense Army Research Office, proposal 45515-LS, Sherry Tove, program officer.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. D. Burr
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. J. Clark
    • 1
  • C. R. Spear
    • 1
  • A. K. Camper
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Biofilm EngineeringMontana State UniversityBozemanUSA

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