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Study reveals dynamics of microbes and nitrate
Date:8/7/2014

been poorly understood. A variety of conditions -- including temperature, pH, the carbon to nitrogen ratio, and sulfide concentration -- have been suggested as potential determining elements but measurements taken directly from the environment have yielded conflicting or incomplete evidence.

Now, by performing 15 long-term experiments with a microbial community sampled from nitrate-filtering sediments found in a sandy tidal flat, researchers have been able to conclusively test the effect of controlled conditions and specific nutrient supplies on the fate of nitrate in nitrogen-cycling processes. The dynamics of structure and activity of the community were carefully monitored under controlled experimental conditions, using a suite of sophisticated bioinformatics techniques including metagenomics, transcriptomics and proteomics.

"I think our study differs in that we started with a really biodiverse sample that can do denitrification or ammonification and really let natural selection do its job," said Marc Strous, professor of geoscience at the University of Calgary and leader of the study. "We really get the best competitors in both pathways. This kind of study was not possible before the era of metagenomics because the whole system was simply too complex to study."

"The technology also allowed us to do continuous cultivation, where we are really able to mimic the conditions that occur in nature, but with the variables controlled," Strous noted.

The study will appear in the August 8 issue of Science. Strous' co-authors are Beate Kraft, Halinina E. Tegetmeyer, Timothy G. Ferdelman and Jeanine S. Geelhoed from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Ritin Sharma and Robert L. Hettich from the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge National Lab Graduate School of Genome Science and Technology, and Martin G. Klotz, Department of Biological Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

The research
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Contact: James Hathaway
jbhathaw@uncc.edu
704-687-5743
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Source:Eurekalert

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