Cupples, A. M., Z. Li, F. P. Wilson, V. Ramalingam, and A. Kelly. 2022. In silico analysis of soil, sediment and groundwater microbial communities to predict biodegradation potential. Journal of Microbiological Methods 202:106595.
This study examined soil, sediment and groundwater microbial communities for a set of key functional genes important for contaminant biodegradation. This involved PICRUSt2 (Phylogenetic Investigation of Communities by Reconstruction of Unobserved States) predictions based on 16S rRNA gene amplicon datasets from three separate studies with different inocula and incubation conditions, as follows: aerobic soils, oxygen-limited microcosms containing sediments and groundwater, as well as methanogenic microcosms with different inocula. PICRUSt2 predicts functional profiles of microbial communities based on marker gene (16S rRNA gene) data. The relative abundances of genera previously associated with the biodegradation of chlorinated solvents/metabolites and/or 1,4-dioxane were also determined. Predicted values for each functional gene varied between the three datasets. In all, values were high for propane monooxygenase and low for soluble methane monooxygenase. Common phylotypes associated with propane monooxygenase in two of the three datasets included Mycobacterium, Rhodococcus and Pseudonocardia. Toluene monooxygenase predicted values were greater in the oxygen-limited microcosms compared to the other two datasets. The methanogenic microcosms exhibited the highest predicted values for particulate methane/ammonia monooxygenase. The most common genera detected, previously reported as chlorinated solvents/metabolites and/or 1,4-dioxane degraders, included Pseudomonas, Sphingomonas, Rhodococcus and Rhodanobacter. Eighteen of the queried genera were not detected. As expected, more potential anaerobic degrading genera were found in the oxygen-limited and methanogenic microcosms compared to the aerobic soils. The results provide key insights as to which genes and genera may be important for biodegradation over a range of inocula and redox conditions.
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