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Use Of Multiplex Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism For Rapid And Simultaneous Analysis Of Different Components Of The Soil Microbial Community▿

Brajesh K. Singh, Loic Nazaries, Stacey Munro, Ian C. Anderson, Colin D. Campbell

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ABSTRACT A multiplex terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (M-TRFLP) fingerprinting method was developed and validated for simultaneous analysis of the diversity and community structure of two or more microbial taxa (up to four taxa). The reproducibility and robustness of the method were examined using soil samples collected from different habitats. DNA was PCR amplified separately from soil samples using individual taxon-specific primers for bacteria, archaea, and fungi. The same samples were also subjected to a multiplex PCR with the primers for all three taxa. The terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism profiles generated for the two sets of PCR products were almost identical not only in terms of the presence of peaks but also in terms of the relative peak intensity. The M-TRFLP method was then used to investigate rhizosphere bacterial, fungal, and rhizobial/agrobacterial communities associated with the dwarf shrub Calluna vulgaris growing in either open moorland, a mature pine forest, or a transition zone between these two habitats containing naturally regenerating pine trees. Rhizosphere microbial communities associated with Vaccinium myrtillus collected from the native pine forest were also investigated. In this study, individual PCR products from the three taxa were also pooled before restriction digestion and fragment size analysis. The terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism profiles obtained with PCR products amplified individually and with multiplexed and pooled PCR products were found to be consistent with each other in terms of the number, position, and relative intensity of peaks. The results presented here confirm that M-TRFLP analysis is a highly reproducible and robust molecular tool for simultaneous investigation of multiple taxa, which allows more complete and higher resolution of microbial communities to be obtained more rapidly and economically.