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Numerical Taxonomy Of Heavy Metal-tolerant Bacteria Isolated From An Estuary

B. Austin, D. A. Allen, A. L. Mills, R. R. Colwell

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A total of 230 strains of metal-tolerant bacteria from water and sediment samples collected in Chesapeake Bay were isolated on a medium containing cobalt, lead, mercury, or molybdenum. In addition, a set of 71 cultures were simultaneously isolated on glucose tryptone yeast extract agar medium without metals. Twenty-three reference strains were also included in the numerical taxonomy study of these bacteria, bringing the grand total of strains examined to 324. All strains were examined for 112 biochemical, cultural, morphological, and physiological characters. The taxonomic data obtained were analyzed by computer and the simple matching (SSM) and Jaccard (SJ) coefficients were calculated. Clustering achieved by unweighted average linkage is presented and. from sorted similarity matrices and dendrograms, 294 strains, i.e., 97% of the total, were recovered in 12 phenetic groups defined at the 75 to 80% similarity level. Among the strains there were nine phena presumptively identified as Bacillus, Erwinia, Mycobacterium, Pseudomonas, and coryneforms. From the results of the taxonomic study, it is concluded that metal tolerance in estuarine water and sediment bacteria occurs among a restricted range of taxa distributed throughout the estuarine environment.