Effects of cryogenic preservation and storage on the molecular characteristics of microorganisms in sediments

Christina N. Brow, Reid O.Brien Johnson, Mouzhong Xu, Richard L. Johnson, Holly M. Simon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Sediment samples from a large physical-model aquifer and laboratory-generated samples were used to systematically assess the effects of whole-sample freezing on the integrity of biomolecules relevant to bioremediation. Impacts of freezing on DNA and RNA were assessed using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) as well as the community fingerprinting method, PCR single-strand conformation polymorphism (PCR-SSCP). We did not observe any significant degradation of a suite of genes and gene transcripts, including short-lived mRNA transcripts, from P. putida F1 or from B. subtilis JH642 in singlespecies samples, or from archaea in enrichment culture samples that also contained members of diverse bacterial phyla. Similarly, freezing did not change the relative abundance of dominant phylotypes in enrichment culture samples as measured by PCR-SSCP of bacterial 16S rDNA. Additionally, freezing and storage for 5 months at-80 °C did not affect the microbial community composition of samples from the model aquifer. Of even greater significance is that freezing and storage did not affect the relative abundance of 16S rRNA phylotypes, since in vivo rRNA content is often correlated with cellular growth rate. Thus, we conclude that cryogenic preservation and storage of intact sediment samples can be used for accurate molecular characterization of microbial populations and may facilitate high-resolution capture of biogeochemical interfaces important to bioremediation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8243-8247
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number21
StatePublished - Sep 24 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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