An improved hybridization technique, HNPP-FISH, using 2-hydroxy-3-naphthoic acid 2′-phenylanilide phosphate (HNPP) and Fast Red TR was applied to analyse the community structure of planktonic bacteria in river water. Oligonucleotide probes specific for the domain Bacteria (EUB338) and five bacterial groups [ (rRNA III)-authentic (rRNA I); the genus ] were used to investigate the bacterial community structure at two sites differing in organic carbon pollution level. At the eutrophic site, 54-68% of all cells visualized by staining with DAPI (4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole) could be detected with probe EUB338. In samples from the oligotrophic site, 39-45% of the total cells hybridized with EUB338. At the eutrophic site, approximately 50% of the total cells were identified with the five group-specific probes; the bacterial community structure was dominated by the group and (rRNA III)-authentic group. At the oligotrophic site, only 26-38% of the total cells were identified with the five group-specific probes. The community structure at the oligotrophic site was similar to that at the eutrophic site, although the percentage of EUB338-detectable cells differed. No appreciable change was found in the community structure during the sampling period at either site. The improved HNPP-FISH technique should be a useful tool for the analysis of microbial community composition.


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