Distribution and diversity of carbon monoxide-oxidizing bacteria and bulk bacterial communities across a succession gradient on a Hawaiian volcanic deposit

C. F. Weber, Louisiana State University
G. M. King, Louisiana State University


Relatively little is known about the distribution and diversity of CO-oxidizing bacteria during succession on volcanic deposits even though they are among the primary colonists. We surveyed CO-oxidizing communities across a vegetation gradient on a 1959 cinder deposit using coxL (large subunit gene of carbon monoxide dehydrogenase) sequences. Sequences most closely related to a coxL sequence from Ktedonobacter racemifer, dominated unvegetated cinders, while Proteobacteria-like sequences dominated vegetated sites. The number of coxL operational taxonomic units (OTUs) increased threefold with increased vegetation, and correlated most strongly with the increased β-Proteobacteria richness (r = 0.987). These compositional shifts were also reflected in overall bacterial community compositions as determined by 16S rRNA gene analysis. Notably, coxL OTU:16S rRNA OTU ratios increased with increased vegetation, indicating that CO oxidizers became a larger fraction of total bacterial richness during succession. Results from most probable number estimates and maximum potential CO uptake activity assays indicate that increased richness is paralleled by increased CO oxidizer abundance, which likely results from increased vegetation and organic carbon content. Collectively, results suggest that in contrast to patterns observed for plant succession, a versatile bacterial functional group that is important during early colonization and succession can remain important in later stages of succession, irrespective of dramatic environmental changes. © 2010 Society for Applied Microbiology and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.