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Microorganisms 2016, 4(1), 5; doi:10.3390/microorganisms4010005

Metagenomic Analyses Reveal That Energy Transfer Gene Abundances Can Predict the Syntrophic Potential of Environmental Microbial Communities

Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive N.W., Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Willy Verstraete
Received: 29 October 2015 / Revised: 12 December 2015 / Accepted: 17 December 2015 / Published: 5 January 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Resource Management)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [2146 KB, uploaded 5 January 2016]   |  

Abstract

Hydrocarbon compounds can be biodegraded by anaerobic microorganisms to form methane through an energetically interdependent metabolic process known as syntrophy. The microorganisms that perform this process as well as the energy transfer mechanisms involved are difficult to study and thus are still poorly understood, especially on an environmental scale. Here, metagenomic data was analyzed for specific clusters of orthologous groups (COGs) related to key energy transfer genes thus far identified in syntrophic bacteria, and principal component analysis was used in order to determine whether potentially syntrophic environments could be distinguished using these syntroph related COGs as opposed to universally present COGs. We found that COGs related to hydrogenase and formate dehydrogenase genes were able to distinguish known syntrophic consortia and environments with the potential for syntrophy from non-syntrophic environments, indicating that these COGs could be used as a tool to identify syntrophic hydrocarbon biodegrading environments using metagenomic data. View Full-Text
Keywords: syntrophy; metagenomics; hydrocarbon biodegradation; principal component analysis; hydrocarbon metagenomics project; methanogenesis; microbial interactions syntrophy; metagenomics; hydrocarbon biodegradation; principal component analysis; hydrocarbon metagenomics project; methanogenesis; microbial interactions
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Oberding, L.; Gieg, L.M. Metagenomic Analyses Reveal That Energy Transfer Gene Abundances Can Predict the Syntrophic Potential of Environmental Microbial Communities. Microorganisms 2016, 4, 5.

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