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Widmer, Franco, Ramon J. Seidler, Lidia S. Watrud, G.D. Di Giovanni. 1998. A highly selective PCR protocol for detecting 16S rRNA genes of the genus Pseudomonas (sensu stricto) in environmental samples. Journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology 64(7):2545-2555

Pseudomonas species are plant, animal, and human pathogens; exhibit plant pathogen-suppressing properties useful in biological control: or express metabolic versatilities valued in biotechnology and bioremediation. Specific detention of Pseudomonas species in the environment may help us gain a more complete understanding of the ecological significance of these microorganisms. The objective of this study was to develop a PCR protocol for selective detection of Pseudomonas (sensu stricto) in environmental samples. Extensive database searches identified a highly selective PCR primer pair for amplification of Pseudomonas 16S rRNA genes. A protocol that included PCR amplification and restriction analysis, a general cloning and sequencing strategy, and phylogenetic analyses was developed. The PCR protocol was validated by testing 50 target and 14 nontarget pure cultures, which confirmed the selectivity to 100%. Further validation used amplification of target sequences from purified bulk soil DNA followed by cloning of PCR products. Restriction analysis with haeIII revealed eight different fragmentation patterns among 36 clones. Sequencing and phylogenetic analysis of 8 representative clones indicated that 91.7% of the products were derived from target organisms of the PCR protocol. Three patterns, representing only 8.3% of the 36 clones, were derived from non-Pseudomonas or chimeric PCR artifacts. Three patterns, representing 61.1% of the clones, clustered with sequences of confirmed Pseudomonas species, whereas two patterns, representing 30% of the clones, formed a novel phylogenetic cluster closely associated with Pseudomonas species. The results indicated that the Pseudomonas-selective PCR primers were highly specific and may represent a powerful tool for Pseudomonas population structure analyses and taxonomic confirmations.

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