Across the U.S. Upper Midwest, a natural geographical sulfate gradient exists in lakes. Sediment grab samples and cores were taken to explore whether this sulfur gradient impacted organohalide-respiring Chloroflexi in lake sediments. Putative organohalide-respiring Chloroflexi were detected in 67 of 68 samples by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Their quantities ranged from 3.5 × 10(4) to 8.4 × 10(10) copies 16S rRNA genes g(-1) dry sediment and increased in number from west to east, whereas lake sulfate concentrations decreased along this west-to-east transect. A terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP) method was used to corroborate this inverse relationship, with sediment samples from lower sulfate lakes containing both a higher number of terminal restriction fragments (TRFs) belonging to the organohalide-respiring Dehalococcoidetes, and a greater percentage of the TRFLP amplification made up by Dehalococcoidetes members. Statistical analyses showed that dissolved sulfur in the porewater, measured as sulfate after oxidation, appeared to have a negative impact on the total number of putative organohalide-respiring Chloroflexi, the number of Dehalococcoidetes TRFs, and the percentage of the TRFLP amplification made up by Dehalococcoidetes. These findings point to dissolved sulfur, presumably present as reduced sulfur species, as a potentially controlling factor in the natural cycling of chlorine, and perhaps as a result, the natural cycling of some carbon as well.
© 2012 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.