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Detection of genes involved in biodegradation and biotransformation in microbial communities by using 50-mer oligonucleotide microarrays

Rhee, S.K., Liu, X., Wu, L., Chong, S.C., Wan, X., Zhou, J.
Applied and environmental microbiology 2004 v.70 no.7 pp. 4303-4317
soil pollution, polluted soils, soil bacteria, DNA probes, microarray technology, biodegradation, biotransformation, bioremediation, naphthalene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene, toluene, xylene, genes, gene expression
To effectively monitor biodegrading populations, a comprehensive 50-mer-based oligonucleotide microarray was developed based on most of the 2,402 known genes and pathways involved in biodegradation and metal resistance. This array contained 1,662 unique and group-specific probes with <85% similarity to their nontarget sequences. Based on artificial probes, our results showed that under hybridization conditions of 50°C and 50% formamide, the 50-mer microarray hybridization can differentiate sequences having <88% similarity. Specificity tests with representative pure cultures indicated that the designed probes on the arrays appeared to be specific to their corresponding target genes. The detection limit was 5 to 10 ng of genomic DNA in the absence of background DNA and 50 to 100 ng of pure-culture genomic DNA in the presence of background DNA or 1.3 x 10(7) cells in the presence of background RNA. Strong linear relationships between the signal intensity and the target DNA and RNA were observed (r2 = 0.95 to 0.99). Application of this type of microarray to analyze naphthalene-amended enrichment and soil microcosms demonstrated that microflora changed differently depending on the incubation conditions. While the naphthalene-degrading genes from Rhodococcus-type microorganisms were dominant in naphthalene-degrading enrichments, the genes involved in naphthalene (and polyaromatic hydrocarbon and nitrotoluene) degradation from gram-negative microorganisms, such as Ralstonia, Comamonas, and Burkholderia, were most abundant in the soil microcosms. In contrast to general conceptions, naphthalene-degrading genes from Pseudomonas were not detected, although Pseudomonas is widely known as a model microorganism for studying naphthalene degradation. The real-time PCR analysis with four representative genes showed that the microarray-based quantification was very consistent with real-time PCR (r2 = 0.74). In addition, application of the arrays to both polyaromatic-hydrocarbon- and benzene-toluene-ethylbenzene-xylene-contaminated and uncontaminated soils indicated that the developed microarrays appeared to be useful for profiling differences in microbial community structures. Our results indicate that this technology has potential as a specific, sensitive, and quantitative tool in revealing a comprehensive picture of the compositions of biodegradation genes and the microbial community in contaminated environments, although more work is needed to improve detection sensitivity.