Novel bacterial lineages at the (sub)division level as detected by signature nucleotide-targeted recovery of 16S rRNA genes from bulk soil and rice roots of flooded rice microcosms
Using a newly developed 16S rRNA gene (rDNA)-targeted PCR assay with proposed group specificity for planctomycetes, we examined anoxic bulk soil of flooded rice microcosms for the presence of novel plancto-mycete-like diversity. For comparison, oxic rice roots were included as an additional sample in this investigation. The bacterial diversity detectable by this PCR assay was assessed by using a combined approach that included terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis and comparative sequence analysis of cloned 16S rDNA. T-RFLP fingerprint patterns generated from rice roots contained 12 distinct terminal restriction fragments (T-RFs). In contrast, the T-RFLP fingerprint patterns obtained from the anoxic bulk soil contained 33 distinct T-RFs, a clearly higher level of complexity. A survey of 176 bulk soil 16S rDNA clone sequences permitted correlation of 20 T-RFs with phylogenetic information. The other 13 T-RFs remained unidentified. The predominant T-RFs obtained from rice roots could be assigned to members of the genus Pirellula within the Planctomycetales, while most of the T-RFs obtained from the bulk soil corresponded to novel lines of bacterial descent. Using a level of 16S rDNA sequence dissimilarity to cultured microorganisms of approximately 20 per cent as a threshold value, we detected 11 distinct bacterial lineages for which pure-culture representatives are not known. Four of these lineages could be assigned to the order Planctomycetales, while one lineage was affiliated with the division Verrucomicrobia and one lineage was affiliated with the spirochetes. The other five lineages either could not be assigned to any of the main lines of bacterial descent or clearly expanded the known diversity of division level lineages WS3 and OP3. Our results indicate the presence of bacterial diversity at a subdivision and/or division level that has not been detected previously by the so-called universal 16S rDNA PCR assays.