A 16S rRNA-targeted tunable bead array was developed and used in a retrospective analysis of metal- and sulfate-reducing bacteria in contaminated subsurface sediments undergoing in situ U(VI) bioremediation. Total RNA was extracted from subsurface sediments and interrogated directly, without a PCR step. Bead array validation studies with total RNA derived from 24 isolates indicated that the behavior and response of the 16S rRNA-targeted oligonucleotide probes could not be predicted based on the primary nucleic acid sequence. Likewise, signal intensity (absolute or normalized) could not be used to assess the abundance of one organism (or rRNA) relative to the abundance of another organism (or rRNA). Nevertheless, the microbial community structure and dynamics through time and space and as measured by the rRNA-targeted bead array were consistent with previous data acquired at the site, where indigenous sulfate- and iron-reducing bacteria and near neighbors of Desulfotomaculum were the organisms that were most responsive to a change in injected acetate concentrations. Bead array data were best interpreted by analyzing the relative changes in the probe responses for spatially and temporally related samples and by considering only the response of one probe to itself in relation to a background (reference) environmental sample. By limiting the interpretation of the data in this manner and placing it in the context of supporting geochemical and microbiological analyses, we concluded that ecologically relevant and meaningful information can be derived from direct microarray analysis of rRNA in uncharacterized environmental samples, even with the current analytical uncertainty surrounding the behavior of individual probes on tunable bead arrays.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology