Fingerprinting Diazotroph Communities in the Chesapeake Bay by Using a DNA Macroarray

Bethany D. Jenkins, Grieg F. Steward, Steven M. Short, Bettie Ward, Jonathan P. Zehr

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69 Scopus citations


Investigations of the distribution and diversity of nitrogen-fixing microorganisms in natural environments have often relied on PCR amplification and sequence analysis of a portion of one of the key enzymes in nitrogen fixation, dinitrogenase reductase, encoded by nifH. Recent work has suggested that DNA macroarrays provide semiquantitative fingerprints of diversity within mixtures of nifH amplicons (G. F. Steward, B. D. Jenkins, B. B. Ward, and J. P. Zehr, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 70:1455-1465, 2004). Here we report the application of macroarrays for a study in the Chesapeake Bay. Samples from different locations in the bay yielded distinct fingerprints. Analysis of replicates and samples from different locations by cluster analysis showed that replicates clustered together, whereas different samples formed distinct clusters. There was a correspondence between the hybridization pattern observed and that predicted from the distribution of sequence types in a corresponding clone library. Some discrepancies between the methods were observed which are likely a result of the high nifH sequence diversity in the Chesapeake Bay and the limited number of sequences represented on this version of the array. Analyses of sequences in the clone library indicate that the Chesapeake Bay harbors unique, phylogenetically diverse diazotrophs. The macroarray hybridization patterns suggest that there are spatially variable communities of diazotrophs, which have been confirmed by quantitative PCR methods (S. M. Short, B. D. Jenkins, and J. P. Zehr, Appl. Environ. Microbiol., in press). The results show that DNA macroarrays have great potential for mapping the spatial and temporal variability of functional gene diversity in the environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1767-1776
Number of pages10
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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