Fluorescent oligonucleotide rDNA probes for specific detection of methane oxidising bacteria

David Bourne, Andrew Holmes, Niels Iversen, Colin Murrell

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45 Citations (Scopus)


Oligonucleotide probes targeting the 16S rRNA of distinct phylogenetic groups of methanotrophs were designed for the in situ detection of these organisms. A probe, MG-64, detected specifically type I methanotrophs, while probes MA-221 and MA-621, detected type II methanotrophs in whole cell hybridisations. A probe Mc1029 was also designed which targeted only organisms from the Methylococcus genus after whole cell hybridisations. All probes were labelled with the fluorochrome Cy3 and optimum conditions for hybridisation were determined. Non-specific target sites of the type I (MG-64) and type II (MA-621) probes to non-methanotrophic organisms are highlighted. The probes are however used in studying enrichment cultures and environments where selective pressure favours the growth of methanotrophs over other organisms. The application of these probes was demonstrated in the detection of type I methanotrophs with the MG-64 probe in an enrichment culture from an estuarine sample demonstrating methane oxidation. The detection of type I methanotrophs was confirmed by a 16S rDNA molecular analysis of the estuarine enrichment culture which demonstrated that the most abundant bacterial clone type in the 16S rDNA library was most closely related to Methylobacter sp. strain BB5.1, a type I methanotroph also isolated from an estuarine environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-38
Number of pages10
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • 16S rDNA probe
  • Fluorescent in situ hybridisation
  • Methane oxidising bacteria


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