Diversity of 16S rDNA and naphthalene dioxygenase genes from coal-tar-waste-contaminated aquifer waters

C. Bakermans, E. L. Madsen

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Microbial diversity in four wells along a groundwater flowpath in a coal-tar-waste-contaminated aquifer was examined using RFLP analysis of both 16S rDNA and naphthalene dioxygenase (NDO) genes. Amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis (ARDRA) relied upon eubacteria-specific primers to generate four clone libraries. From each library, 100 clones were randomly picked for analysis. Sixty percent of 400 clones contained unique ARDRA patterns. Diversity indices calculated for each community were high (Shannon-Weaver, H′ = 3.53 to 3.69). Clones representing ARDRA patterns found in the highest abundance were sequenced (31 total). Sequences related to aerobic bacteria (e.g., Nitrospira, Methylomonas, and Gallionella) predominated among those retrieved from the uncontaminated area of the site, whereas sequences related to facultatively aerobic and anaerobic bacteria (e.g. Azoarcus, Syntrophus, and Desulfotomaculum) predominated among those retrieved from contaminated areas of the site. Using NDO-specific primers and low-stringency PCR conditions, variability in RFLP patterns was only detected in community-derived DNA (3 of 4 wells) and not in 5 newly isolated naphthalene-degrading pure cultures. The ARDRA patterns of the pure culture isolates were not found in the clone libraries. Polymorphisms in community 16S rDNA and NDO genes found in well-water microorganisms reflected distinctive geochemical conditions across the site. Sequences related to sulfate-reducing bacteria were found in groundwater that contained sulfide, while sequences related to Gallionella, Syntrophus, and nitrate-reducing aromatic hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria were found in groundwater that contained ferrous iron, methane, and naphthalene, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-106
Number of pages12
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science

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