Spatial and Temporal Assessment of Diazotroph Assemblage Composition in Vegetated Salt Marsh Sediments Using Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis Analysis
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Diazotroph assemblage compositions were assessed in rhizosphere sediments from the tall and short form Spartina alterniflora growth zones over an annual cycle. Sediment cores were collected for DNA extraction and nitrogenase (acetylene reduction) activity assays, and porewater samples were analyzed for several chemical parameters in March, June, September, and December 1997. These data were collected to determine if within- or between-zone differences in the diazotroph assemblage composition correlated with differences in key environmental variables or acetylene reduction activity. Acetylene reduction rates differed between zones and within a zone over an annual period. Soluble sulfide concentrations were higher in the short form S. alterniflora zone on all dates except those in June and differed within both zones on different sample dates. nifH sequences were recovered from rhizosphere sediment DNA by PCR amplification using nifH specific primers. These amplimers were analyzed using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), and the resulting patterns were compared by neural network and linear discriminant analyses. Ten prominent amplimers, four of which were apparent heteroduplexes, were observed. DGGE banding profiles showed minor differences among sampling dates and between sample zones, but the overall banding pattern was remarkably consistent. This reflects overall similarity between the amplifiable diazotroph assemblages in the tall and short S. alterniflora growth zones and substantial seasonal stability in assemblage composition.
KeywordsLinear Discriminant Analysis Acetylene Reduction Acetylene Reduction Activity Salt Marsh Sediment nifH Sequence
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