Genotypic Distribution of a Specialist Model Microorganism, Methanosaeta, along an Estuarine Gradient: Does Metabolic Restriction Limit Niche Differentiation Potential?
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A reductionist ecological approach of using a model genus was adopted in order to understand how microbial community structure is driven by metabolic properties. The distribution along an estuarine gradient of the highly specialised genus Methanosaeta was investigated and compared to the previously determined distribution of the more metabolically flexible Desulfobulbus. Methanosaeta genotypic distribution along the Colne estuary (Essex, UK) was determined by DNA- and RNA-based denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and 16S rRNA gene sequence analyses. Methanosaeta distribution was monotonic, with a consistently diverse community and no apparent niche partitioning either in DNA or RNA analyses. This distribution pattern contrasts markedly with the previously described niche partitioning and sympatric differentiation of the model generalist, Desulfobulbus. To explain this difference, it is hypothesised that Methanosaeta’s strict metabolic needs limit its adaptation potential, thus populations do not partition into spatially distinct groups and so do not appear to be constrained by gross environmental factors such as salinity. Thus, at least for these two model genera, it appears that metabolic flexibility may be an important factor in spatial distribution and this may be applicable to other microbes.
KeywordsClone Library Methanosarcina Methanosaeta Partial Mantel Test Dissimilarity Matrice
This work was funded by a Marie Curie Excellence Team Grant MicroComXT (MEXT-CT-2005-024112) to KJP. Clones were sequenced at the Sequencing Facility, Natural History Museum, London, UK.
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