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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Phylogeny and distribution of nitrate-storing Beggiatoa spp. in coastal marine sediments.

Filamentous sulphide-oxidizing Beggiatoa spp. often occur in large numbers in the coastal seabed without forming visible mats on the sediment surface. We studied the diversity, population structure and the nitrate-storing capability of such bacteria in the Danish Limfjorden and the German Wadden Sea. Their distribution was compared to the vertical gradients of O2, NO3- and H2S as measured by microsensors. The main Beggiatoa spp. populations occurred in a 0.5-3 cm thick intermediate zone, below the depth of oxygen and nitrate penetration but above the zone of free sulphide. The Beggiatoa spp. filaments were found to store nitrate, presumably in liquid vacuoles up to a concentration of 370 mM NO3-, similar to the related large marine sulphur bacteria, Thioploca and Thiomargarita. The observations indicate that marine Beggiatoa spp. can live anaerobically and conserve energy by coupling sulphide oxidation with the reduction of nitrate to dinitrogen and/or ammonia. Calculations of the diffusive nitrate flux and the potential sulphide oxidation by Beggiatoa spp. show that the bacteria may play a critical role for the sulphur cycling and the nitrogen balance in these coastal environments. 16S rDNA sequence analysis shows a large diversity of these uncultured, nitrate-storing Beggiatoa spp. Smaller (9-17 micro m wide) and larger (33-40 micro m wide) Beggiatoa spp. represent novel phylogenetic clusters distinct from previously sequenced, large marine Beggiatoa spp. and Thioploca spp. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) of the natural Beggiatoa spp. populations showed that filament width is a conservative character of each phylogenetic species but a given filament width may represent multiple phylogenetic species in a mixed population.[1]


  1. Phylogeny and distribution of nitrate-storing Beggiatoa spp. in coastal marine sediments. Mussmann, M., Schulz, H.N., Strotmann, B., Kjaer, T., Nielsen, L.P., Rosselló-Mora, R.A., Amann, R.I., Jørgensen, B.B. Environ. Microbiol. (2003) [Pubmed]
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