Source: Laboratories of Dr. Ian Pepper and Dr. Charles Gerba - Arizona University
Demonstrating Author: Luisa Ikner
Traditional methods of analysis for microbial communities within soils have usually involved either cultural assays utilizing dilution and plating methodology on selective and differential media or direct count assays. Direct counts offer information about the total number of bacteria present, but give no information about the number or diversity of populations present within the community. Plate counts allow enumeration of total cultural or selected cultural populations, and hence provide information on the different populations present. However, since less than 1% of soil bacteria are readily culturable, cultural information offers only a piece of the picture. The actual fraction of the community that can be cultured depends on the medium chosen for cultural counts. Any single medium will select for the populations that are best suited to that particular medium.
In recent years, the advantages of studying community DNA extracted from soil samples have become apparent. This nonculture-based approach is thought to be more representative of the actual community present than culture-based approaches. In addition to providing information about the types of populations present, this …