Author(s): DeRito CM, Pumphrey GM, Madsen EL
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Abstract The goal of this field study was to provide insight into three distinct populations of microorganisms involved in in situ metabolism of phenol. Our approach measured 13CO2 respired from [13C]phenol and stable isotope probing (SIP) of soil DNA at an agricultural field site. Traditionally, SIP-based investigations have been subject to the uncertainties posed by carbon cross-feeding. By altering our field-based, substrate-dosing methodologies, experiments were designed to look beyond primary degraders to detect trophically related populations in the food chain. Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS), it was shown that (13)C-labeled biomass, derived from primary phenol degraders in soil, was a suitable growth substrate for other members of the soil microbial community. Next, three dosing regimes were designed to examine active members of the microbial community involved in phenol metabolism in situ: (i) 1 dose of [13C]phenol, (ii) 11 daily doses of unlabeled phenol followed by 1 dose of [13C]phenol, and (iii) 12 daily doses of [13C]phenol. GC/MS analysis demonstrated that prior exposure to phenol boosted 13CO2 evolution by a factor of 10. Furthermore, imaging of 13C-treated soil using secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) verified that individual bacteria incorporated 13C into their biomass. PCR amplification and 16S rRNA gene sequencing of 13C-labeled soil DNA from the 3 dosing regimes revealed three distinct clone libraries: (i) unenriched, primary phenol degraders were most diverse, consisting of alpha-, beta-, and gamma-proteobacteria and high-G+C-content gram-positive bacteria, (ii) enriched primary phenol degraders were dominated by members of the genera Kocuria and Staphylococcus, and (iii) trophically related (carbon cross-feeders) were dominated by members of the genus Pseudomonas. These data show that SIP has the potential to document population shifts caused by substrate preexposure and to follow the flow of carbon through terrestrial microbial food chains.
This article was published in Appl Environ Microbiol
and referenced in Journal of Bioremediation & Biodegradation