(13)C incorporation into DNA as a means of identifying the active components of ammonia-oxidizer populations

Lett Appl Microbiol. 2001 Jun;32(6):398-401. doi: 10.1046/j.1472-765x.2001.00930.x.


Aims: To identify active CO2-assimilating species of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria in fresh water sediment.

Methods and results: Enrichment cultures were incubated in the presence of 13C labelled CO2, and 13C-DNA successfully resolved from 12C-DNA by caesium chloride density gradient ultracentrifugation of DNA extracts. Ammonia-oxidizer DNA recovered from these gradients was amplified and characterised by Temporal Temperature Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (TTGE), with confirmatory sequence analysis to identify the metabolically active components of the population.

Conclusion: The 12C-DNA fraction was dominated by nitrosospiras, in contrast to the 13C-DNA fraction which was largely nitrosomonad DNA, in support of the hypothesis that nitrosomonads out-compete nitrosospiras in laboratory culture.

Significance and impact of the study: The use of stable isotype incorporation into ammonia-oxidizer DNA could therefore circumvent the problems associated with RNA detection to identify metabolically active species in situ.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism*
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • DNA, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • Nitrosomonas / genetics
  • Nitrosomonas / metabolism*
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds / metabolism*


  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
  • Carbon Dioxide