Microbial Ecology

, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 489–499 | Cite as

Quantifying Expression of a Dissimilatory (bi)Sulfite Reductase Gene in Petroleum-Contaminated Marine Harbor Sediments

  • Kuk-Jeong ChinEmail author
  • Manju L. Sharma
  • Lyndsey A. Russell
  • Kathleen R. O’Neill
  • Derek R. Lovley
Original Article


The possibility of quantifying in situ levels of transcripts for dissimilatory (bi)sulfite reductase (dsr) genes to track the activity of sulfate-reducing microorganisms in petroleum-contaminated marine harbor sediments was evaluated. Phylogenetic analysis of the cDNA generated from mRNA for a ca. 1.4 kbp portion of the contiguous dsrA and dsrB genes suggested that Desulfosarcina species, closely related to cultures known to anaerobically oxidize aromatic hydrocarbons, were active sulfate reducers in the sediments. The levels of dsrA transcripts (per μg total mRNA) were quantified in sediments incubated anaerobically at the in situ temperature as well as in sediments incubated at higher temperatures and/or with added acetate to increase the rate of sulfate reduction. Levels of dsrA transcripts were low when there was no sulfate reduction because the sediments were depleted of sulfate or if sulfate reduction was inhibited with added molybdate. There was a direct correlation between dsrA transcript levels and rates of sulfate reduction when sulfate was at ca. 10 mM in the various sediment treatments, but it was also apparent that within a given sediment, dsrA levels increased over time as long as sulfate was available, even when sulfate reduction rates did not increase. These results suggest that phylogenetic analysis of dsr transcript sequences may provide insight into the active sulfate reducers in marine sediments and that quantifying levels of dsrA transcripts can indicate whether sulfate reducers are active in particular sediment. Furthermore, it may only be possible to use dsrA transcript levels to compare the relative rates of sulfate reduction in sediments when sulfate concentrations, and possibly other environmental conditions, are comparable.


Sulfate Reduction Clone Library Sulfate Reduction Rate Harbor Sediment Sediment Slurry 
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.



This research was funded by the Office of Naval Research (Grant N00014-03-1-0315). We would like to thank Captain Peter Edwards of the University of Massachusetts, Boston and Richard Glaven for their assistance with the sampling in Boston Harbor, MA.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kuk-Jeong Chin
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Manju L. Sharma
    • 1
  • Lyndsey A. Russell
    • 1
  • Kathleen R. O’Neill
    • 1
  • Derek R. Lovley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MicrobiologyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA

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