Evaluation of 50-mer oligonucleotide arrays for detecting microbial populations in environmental samples

Biotechniques. 2004 Apr;36(4):664-70, 672, 674-5. doi: 10.2144/04364RR02.


Microarrays fabricated with oligonucleotides longer than 40 bp have been introduced for monitoring whole genome expression but have not been evaluated with environmental samples. To determine the potential of this type of microarray for environmental studies, a 50-mer oligonucleotide microarray was constructed using 763 genes involved in nitrogen cycling: nitrite reductase (nirS and nirK), ammonia monooxygenase (amoA), nitrogenase (nifH), methane monooxygenase (pmoA), and sulfite reductase (dsrAB) from public databases and our own sequence collections. The comparison of the sequences from pure cultures indicated that the developed microarrays could provide species-level resolution for analyzing microorganisms involved in nitrification, denitrification, nitrogen fixation, methane oxidation, and sulfite reduction. Sensitivity tests suggested that the 50-mer oligonucleotide arrays could detect dominant populations in the environments, although sensitivity still needs to be improved. A significant quantitative relationship was also obtained with a mixture of DNAs from eight different bacteria. These results suggest that the 50-mer oligonucleotide array can be used as a specific and quantitative parallel tool for the detection of microbial populations in environmental samples.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis*
  • Oligonucleotide Probes
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • DNA Primers
  • Oligonucleotide Probes