Bacterial diversity among small-subunit rRNA gene clones and cellular isolates from the same seawater sample

Appl Environ Microbiol. 1997 Mar;63(3):983-9. doi: 10.1128/aem.63.3.983-989.1997.


Numerous investigations applying the cloning and sequencing of rRNA genes (rDNAs) to the study of marine bacterioplankton diversity have shown that the sequences of genes cloned directly from environmental DNA do not correspond to the genes of cultured marine taxa. These results have been interpreted as support for the hypothesis that the most abundant heterotrophic marine bacterioplankton species are not readily culturable by commonly used methods. However, an alternative explanation is that marine bacterioplankton can be easily cultured but are not well represented in sequence databases. To further examine this question, we compared the small-subunit (SSU) rDNAs of 127 cellular clones isolated from a water sample collected off the Oregon coast to 58 bacterial SSU rDNAs cloned from environmental DNAs from the same water sample. The results revealed little overlap between partial SSU rDNA sequences from the cellular clones and the environmental clone library. An exception was the SSU rDNA sequence recovered from a cellular clone belonging to the Pseudomonas subgroup of the gamma subclass of the class Proteobacteria, which was related to a single gene cloned directly from the same water sample (OCS181) (similarity, 94.6%). In addition, partial SSU rDNA sequences from three of the cultured strains matched a novel rDNA clone related to the gamma subclass of the Proteobacteria found previously in an environmental clone library from marine aggregates (AGG53) (similarity, 94.3 to 99.6%). Our results support the hypothesis that many of the most abundant bacterioplankton species are not readily culturable by standard methods but also show that heterotrophic bacterioplankton that are culturable on media with high organic contents include many strains for which SSU rDNA sequences are not available in sequence databases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / growth & development
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry*
  • DNA, Ribosomal / chemistry*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Seawater
  • Water Microbiology*


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U78909
  • GENBANK/U78910
  • GENBANK/U78911
  • GENBANK/U78912
  • GENBANK/U78913
  • GENBANK/U78914
  • GENBANK/U78915
  • GENBANK/U78916
  • GENBANK/U78917
  • GENBANK/U78918
  • GENBANK/U78919
  • GENBANK/U78920
  • GENBANK/U78921
  • GENBANK/U78922
  • GENBANK/U78923
  • GENBANK/U78924
  • GENBANK/U78925
  • GENBANK/U78926
  • GENBANK/U78927
  • GENBANK/U78928
  • GENBANK/U78929
  • GENBANK/U78930
  • GENBANK/U78931
  • GENBANK/U78932
  • GENBANK/U78933
  • GENBANK/U78934
  • GENBANK/U78935
  • GENBANK/U78936
  • GENBANK/U78937
  • GENBANK/U78938