Analysis of transduction in wastewater bacterial populations by targeting the phage-derived 16S rRNA gene sequences


  • Editor: Julian Marchesi

Correspondence: Leonid A. Kulakov, School of Biological Sciences, Medical Biology Centre, The Queen's University of Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7BL, Northern Ireland. Tel.: +44 289 097 2799; fax: +44 289 097 5877; e-mail:


Bacterial 16S rRNA genes transduced by bacteriophages were identified and analyzed in order to estimate the extent of the bacteriophage-mediated horizontal gene transfer in the wastewater environment. For this purpose, phage and bacterial DNA was isolated from the oxidation tank of a municipal wastewater treatment plant. Phylogenetic analysis of the 16S rRNA gene sequences cloned from a phage metagenome revealed that bacteriophages transduce genetic material in several major groups of bacteria. The groups identified were as follows: Betaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Alphaproteobacteria, Actinomycetales and Firmicutes. Analysis of the 16S rRNA gene sequences in the total bacterial DNA from the same sample revealed that several bacterial groups found in the oxidation tank were not present in the phage metagenome (e.g. Deltaproteobacteria, Nitrospira, Planctomycetes and many Actinobacteria genera). These results suggest that transduction in a wastewater environment occurs in several bacterial groups; however, not all species are equally involved into this process. The data also showed that a number of distinctive bacterial strains participate in transduction-mediated gene transfer within identified bacterial groupings. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis analysis confirmed that profiles of the transduced 16S rRNA gene sequences and those present in the whole microbial community show significant differences.