Expression of nifH genes in natural microbial assemblages in Lake George, New York, detected by reverse transcriptase PCR.
A modified nested reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) method was used to detect the expression of nitrogenase genes in meso-oligotrophic Lake George, New York. Net (>20-microm pore size) plankton samples collected from two sites (Dome Island and Hague Marina) were extracted for total RNA and genomic DNA to determine the identity of diazotrophic organisms that were present and those that were actively expressing nitrogenase genes. Phylogenetic analysis of individual sequences cloned from PCR amplifications showed that there were phylogenetically diverse groups of bacteria that possessed a nifH gene, including representatives of unicellular and filamentous cyanobacteria, the alpha- and gamma-subdivisions of the division Proteobacteria (alpha- and gamma-proteobacteria), and a previously undefined group of bacteria. The phylotypes cloned from RT-PCR amplifications, which were actively expressing nifH transcripts, clustered with the unicellular and filamentous cyanobacteria, alpha-proteobacteria, and the novel bacterial cluster. No bacterial sequences were found which clustered with sequences from cluster II (alternative nitrogenases), III (nitrogenases in strict anaerobes), or IV (nifH-like sequences). These results indicate that there were several distinct groups of nitrogen-fixing microorganisms in the net plankton from both sampling sites and that most of the groups had representative phylotypes that were actively expressing nitrogenase genes.
Zani, S; Mellon, MT; Collier, JL; Zehr, JP
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