Development and application of a PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis tool to study the diversity of Nitrobacter-like nxrA sequences in soil.

Research paper by Sophie S Wertz, Franck F Poly, Xavier X Le Roux, Valérie V Degrange

Indexed on: 18 Jan '08Published on: 18 Jan '08Published in: FEMS Microbiology Ecology


A new PCR-denaturing gel gradient electrophoresis (DGGE) tool based on the functional gene nxrA encoding the catalytic subunit of the nitrite oxidoreductase in nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB) has been developed. The first aim was to determine if the primers could target representatives of NOB genera: Nitrococcus and Nitrospira. The primers successfully amplified nxrA gene sequences from Nitrococcus mobilis, but not from Nitrospira marina. The second aim was to develop a PCR-DGGE tool to characterize NOB community structure on the basis of Nitrobacter-like partial nrxA gene sequences (Nb-nxrA). We tested (1) the ability of this tool to discriminate between Nitrobacter strains, and (2) its ability to reveal changes in the community structure of NOB harbouring Nb-nrxA sequences induced by light grazing or intensive grazing in grassland soils. The DGGE profiles clearly differed between the four Nitrobacter strains tested. Differences in the structure of NOB community were revealed between grazing regimes. Phylogenetic analysis of the sequences corresponding to different DGGE bands showed that Nb-nxrA sequences did not group in management-specific clusters. Most of the nxrA sequences obtained from soils differed from nxrA sequences of NOB strains. Along with existing tools for characterizing the community structure of nitrifiers, this new approach is a significant step forward to performing comprehensive studies on nitrification.