Microbial Ecology

, Volume 72, Issue 2, pp 381–393 | Cite as

Comparative Study of Bacterial Communities in Nepenthes Pitchers and Their Correlation to Species and Fluid Acidity

  • Pattanop KanokratanaEmail author
  • Wuttichai Mhuanthong
  • Thanaporn Laothanachareon
  • Sithichoke Tangphatsornruang
  • Lily Eurwilaichitr
  • Trongtham Kruetreepradit
  • Shawn Mayes
  • Verawat Champreda
Environmental Microbiology


Pitchers are specialized digestive organs of carnivorous plants which evolved for trapping prey and represent a unique environment harboring hidden diversity of unexplored microbes forming transient hydrolytic microcosms. In this study, the diversity of bacterial communities in the pitcher fluids of seven local Nepenthes found in Thailand was assessed by tagged 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene amplicon sequencing on an Ion PGM™ platform. A total of 1,101,000 filtered sequences were obtained which were taxonomically classified into 20 phyla, 48 classes, 72 orders, 153 families, and 442 genera while the remainder (1.43 %) could not be assigned to any existing taxa. Proteobacteria represented the predominant members in closed pitchers and more diversified bacterial taxa particularly Bacteriodetes and Actinobacteria, showed increasing abundance in open pitchers containing insect bodies. Principal coordinate analysis revealed that distribution of bacterial taxa was not significantly related to the Nepenthes species but strongly correlated to the pH of the pitcher fluids (pH 1.7–6.7). Acidicella was a highly dominant bacterial genus in acidic pitcher fluids while Dyella and Mycobacterium were also common genera in most pitchers. A unique microbial community structure was found in Nepenthes ampullaria which could reflect their adaptation to digest leaf litter, in addition to insect prey. The work revealed the highly unexplored nature of bacterial microcosms in Nepenthes pitcher fluids and provides insights into their community structure in this unique ecological system.


Bacterial diversity Nepenthes Next-generation sequencing Pitcher fluid 16S rRNA gene 



This project was financially supported by the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (grant number P-15-50129). The authors thank SEANSRF for sample collection, advice, and their commitment to Nepenthes conservation in Thailand.

Supplementary material

248_2016_798_MOESM1_ESM.docx (293 kb)
Fig. S1 (DOCX 293 kb)
248_2016_798_MOESM2_ESM.docx (32 kb)
Table S1 (DOCX 31 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pattanop Kanokratana
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wuttichai Mhuanthong
    • 1
  • Thanaporn Laothanachareon
    • 1
  • Sithichoke Tangphatsornruang
    • 2
  • Lily Eurwilaichitr
    • 1
  • Trongtham Kruetreepradit
    • 3
  • Shawn Mayes
    • 3
  • Verawat Champreda
    • 1
  1. 1.Enzyme Technology Laboratory, Bioresources Technology UnitNational Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC)Khlong LuangThailand
  2. 2.Genome InstituteNational Center for Genetic Engineering and BiotechnologyKhlong LuangThailand
  3. 3.Southeast Asian Nepenthes Study and Research Foundation (SEANSRF)Koh SamuiThailand

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