Use of 16S ribosomal DNA for delineation of marine bacterioplankton species

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2002 Jul;68(7):3628-33. doi: 10.1128/AEM.68.7.3628-3633.2002.


All of the marine bacterioplankton-derived 16S ribosomal DNA sequences previously deposited in GenBank were reanalyzed to determine the number of bacterial species in the oceanic surface waters. These sequences have been entered into the database since 1990. The rate of new additions reached a peak in 1999 and subsequently leveled off, suggesting that much of the marine microbial species richness has been sampled. When the GenBank sequences were dereplicated by using 97% similarity as a cutoff, 1,117 unique ribotypes were found. Of the unique sequences, 609 came from uncultured environmental clones and 508 came from cultured bacteria. We conclude that the apparent bacterioplankton species richness is relatively low.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Databases, Nucleic Acid
  • Marine Biology
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics*
  • Water Microbiology


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S