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Summary

In order to understand the effect of the maize rhizosphere on denitrification, the diversity and the activity of the denitrifying community were studied in soil amended with maize mucilage. Diversity of the denitrifying community was investigated by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of total community DNA extracted from soils using gene fragments, encoding the nitrate reductase (narG) and the nitrous oxide reductase (nosZ), as molecular markers. To assess the underlying diversity, PCR products were cloned and 10 gene libraries were obtained for each targeted gene. Libraries containing 738 and 713 narG and nosZ clones, respectively, were screened by restriction fragment analysis, and grouped based on their RFLP (restriction fragment length polymorphism) patterns. In all, 117 and 171 different clone families have been identified for narG and nosZ and representatives of RFLP families containing at least two clones were sequenced. Rarefaction curves of both genes did not reach a clear saturation, indicating that analysis of an increasing number of clones would have revealed further diversity. Recovered NarG sequences were related to NarG from Actinomycetales and from Proteobacteria but most of them are not related to NarG from known bacteria. In contrast, most of the NosZ sequences were related to NosZ from α, β, and γProteobacteria. Denitrifying activity was monitored by incubating the control and amended soils anaerobically in presence of acetylene. The N2O production rates revealed denitrifying activity to be greater in amended soil than in control soil. Altogether, our results revealed that mucilage addition to the soil results in a strong impact on the activity of the denitrifying community and minor changes on its diversity.