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Numerically Dominant Denitrifying Bacteria from World Soils 1

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  • General Microbial Ecology
  • Agricultural Science


Nineteen soils, three freshwater lake sediments, and oxidized poultry manure were examined to determine the dominant denitrifier populations. The samples, most shown or expected to support active denitrification, were from eight countries and included rice paddy, temperate agricultural, rain forest, organic, and waste-treated soils. Over 1,500 organisms that could grow anaerobically on nitrate agar were isolated. After purification, 146 denitrifiers were obtained, as verified by production of N2 from NO3-. These isolates were characterized by 52 properties appropriate for the Pseudomonas-Alcaligenes group. Numerical taxonomic procedures were used to group the isolates and compare them with nine known denitrifier species. The major group isolated was representative of Pseudonomas fluorescens biotype II. The second most prevalent group was representative of Alcaligenes. Other Pseudomonas species as well as members of the genus Flavobacterium, the latter previously not known to denitrify, also were identified. One-third of the isolates could not utilize glucose or other carbohydrates as sole carbon sources. Significantly, none of the numerically dominant denitrifiers we isolated resembled the most studied species: Pseudomonas denitrificans, Pseudomonas perfectomarinus, and Paracoccus denitrificans. Denitrification appears to be a property of a very diverse group of gram-negative, motile bacteria, as shown by the large number (22.6%) of ungrouped organisms. The diversity of denitrifiers from a given sample was usually high, with at least two groups present. Denitrifiers, nitrite accumulators, and organisms capable of anaerobic growth were present in the ratio of 0.20±0.23:0.81±0.23:1. There were few correlations between their numbers and the sample characteristics measured. However, the temperatures at which isolates could grow were significantly related to the temperatures of the environments from which they were isolated. Regression analysis revealed few relationships between physical parameters and bacterial types, save for the anaerobe numbers, in which 94% of the variance could be accounted for.

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