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. 1995 Jul;61(7):2527-32.

Diversity of Heterotrophic Nitrogen Fixation Genes in a Marine Cyanobacterial Mat

Free PMC article

Diversity of Heterotrophic Nitrogen Fixation Genes in a Marine Cyanobacterial Mat

J P Zehr et al. Appl Environ Microbiol. .
Free PMC article


The diversity of nitrogenase genes in a marine cyanobacterial mat was investigated through amplification of a fragment of nifH, which encodes the Fe protein of the nitrogenase complex. The amplified nifH products were characterized by DNA sequencing and were compared with the sequences of nitrogenase genes from cultivated organisms. Phylogenetic analysis showed that similar organisms clustered together, with the exception that anaerobic bacteria clustered together, even though they represented firmicutes, (delta)-proteobacteria, and (gamma)-proteobacteria. Mat nifH sequences were most closely related to those of the anaerobes, with a few being most closely related to the cluster of (gamma)-proteobacteria containing Klebsiella and Azotobacter species. No cyanobacterial nifH sequences were found from the mat collected in November when Microcoleus chthonoplastes was the dominant cyanobacterium, but sequences closely related to the cyanobacterium Lyngbya lagerheimeii were found during summer, when a Lyngbya strain was dominant. The results indicate that there is a high diversity of heterotrophic nitrogen-fixing organisms in marine cyanobacterial mats.

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