Effect of different carbon sources on community composition of bacterial enrichments from soil

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Soil is a highly heterogeneous matrix, which can contain thousands of different bacterial species per gram. Only a small component of this diversity (maybe <1%) is commonly captured using standard isolation techniques, although indications are that a larger proportion of the soil community is in fact culturable. Better isolation techniques yielding greater bacterial diversity would be of benefit for understanding the metabolic activity and capability of many soil microorganisms. We studied the response of soil bacterial communities to carbon source enrichment in small matrices by means of terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP) analysis. The community composition of replicate enrichments from soil displayed high variability; likely attributable to soil heterogeneity. An analysis of TRFLP data indicated that enrichment on structurally similar carbon sources selected for similar bacterial communities. The same analysis indicated that communities first enriched on glucose or benzoate and subsequently transferred into medium containing an alternate carbon source retained a distinct community signature induced by the carbon source used in the primary enrichment. Enrichment on leucine presented a selective challenge that was able to override the imprint left by primary enrichment on acetate. In a time series experiment community change was most rapid 18 hours after inoculation, corresponding to exponential growth. Community composition did not stabilize even 4 days after secondary enrichment. Four different soil types were enriched on four different carbon sources. TRFLP analysis indicated that in three out of four cases communities enriched on the same carbon source were more similar regardless of which soil type was used. Conversely, the garden soil samples yielded similar enrichment communities regardless of the enrichment carbon source. Our results indicate that in order to maximize the diversity of bacteria recovered from the environment, multiple enrichments should be performed using a chemically diverse set of carbon sources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6776-6783
Number of pages8
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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