Author(s): Mesarch MB, Nakatsu CH, Nies L
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Abstract Benzene, toluene, xylenes, phenol, naphthalene, and biphenyl are among a group of compounds that have at least one reported pathway for biodegradation involving catechol 2,3-dioxygenase enzymes. Thus, detection of the corresponding catechol 2,3-dioxygenase genes can serve as a basis for identifying and quantifying bacteria that have these catabolic abilities. Primers that can successfully amplify a 238-bp catechol 2,3-dioxygenase gene fragment from eight different bacteria are described. The identities of the amplicons were confirmed by hybridization with a 238-bp catechol 2,3-dioxygenase probe. The detection limit was 10(2) to 10(3) gene copies, which was lowered to 10(0) to 10(1) gene copies by hybridization. Using the dioxygenase-specific primers, an increase in catechol 2, 3-dioxygenase genes was detected in petroleum-amended soils. The dioxygenase genes were enumerated by competitive quantitative PCR with a 163-bp competitor that was amplified using the same primers. Target and competitor sequences had identical amplification kinetics. Potential PCR inhibitors that could coextract with DNA, nonamplifying DNA, soil factors (humics), and soil pollutants (toluene) did not impact enumeration. Therefore, this technique can be used to accurately and reproducibly quantify catechol 2, 3-dioxygenase genes in complex environments such as petroleum-contaminated soil. Direct, non-cultivation-based molecular techniques for detecting and enumerating microbial pollutant-biodegrading genes in environmental samples are powerful tools for monitoring bioremediation and developing field evidence in support of natural attenuation.
This article was published in Appl Environ Microbiol
and referenced in Journal of Aquaculture Research & Development