Phylogenetic analyses of ribosomal DNA-containing bacterioplankton genome fragments from a 4000 m vertical profile in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre


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High-throughput identification of rRNA gene-containing clones in large insert metagenomic libraries is difficult, because of the high background of host ribosomal RNA (rRNA) and rRNA genes. To address this challenge, a membrane hybridization method was developed to identify all bacterial small subunit rRNA-containing fosmid clones of microbial community DNA from seven different depths in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Out of 101,376 clones screened, 751 rDNA-containing clones were identified that grouped in ∼60 different clades. Several rare sequences only remotely related to known groups were detected, including a Wolbachia-related sequence containing a putative intron or intervening sequence, as well as seven sequences from Order Myxococcales not previously detected in pelagic habitats. Stratified, depth-specific population structure was evident within both cultured and uncultured lineages. Conversely, some eurybathyal members of the genera Alcanivorax and Rhizobium shared identical small subunit ribosomal DNA sequences that were distributed from surface waters to the 4000 m depth. Comparison with similar analyses in Monterey Bay microbial communities revealed previously recognized, as well as some distinctive, depth-stratified partitioning that distinguished coastal from open ocean bacterioplankton populations. While some bias was evident in fosmid clone recovery in a few particular lineages, the overall phylogenetic group recovery and distributions were consistent with previous studies, as well as with direct shotgun sequence data from the same source DNA.