Detection of luciferase gene sequences in nonluminescent bacteria from the Chesapeake Bay
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A 745-bp luxA fragment was amplified from Vibrio harveyi (UM 1503), radiolabeled, and used as a probe to detect and quantify luxA genotypes in culturable bacterial populations from the Chesapeake Bay. DNA samples from 53 reference strains were also examined for this gene. The luxA-positive bacteria comprised from 0-6% of the culturable heterotrophic bacterial community in samples from the Bay. Only those reference strains known to be luminescent contained the luxA gene, as indicated by PCR. Results in all cases were confirmed by PCR of DNA extracts and Southern hybridization analyses, using an internal probe for confirmation of luxA amplification products. Sequence analysis of luxA genes from three nonluminescent bacteria isolated from the Chesapeake Bay indicated little or no differences when compared with luxA sequences from known marine luminescent bacterial species. These three Chesapeake Bay strains and other luxA-positive strains were tested with a luminometer and confirmed to be nonluminescent. All of over 7800 bacterial colonies enumerated during this study from Chesapeake Bay samples were non-visibly luminescent. The results indicate that luxA-positive bacteria isolated from the Chesapeake Bay are not generally luminescent on phenotypic examination, implying that gene probe techniques are required for examining luxA gene distribution in microbial populations present in environmental samples.
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