Two contrasting compost windrows were monitored for various physical, chemical and microbiological parameters for a period of 106 days. The different input materials and management practises gave rise to different temperature, moisture, and oxygen consumption profiles as composting proceeded. However, despite the different composting conditions, the specific respiratory activity, as determined by oxygen consumption per bacterial cell, was remarkably similar for both windrows. Further investigations into diversity dynamics were done through DGGE and cloning and sequencing of bacterial 16S rDNA PCR products. Although sequence analysis showed differing bacterial communities across time and between the different windrows, similarities in the progression were noted. The majority of sequences recovered from the first sampling period (day 1) were highly similar to previously isolated organisms. The clone libraries from the last sampling period (day 106) contained organisms that showed lower homology to their closest relatives, often with other uncultured organisms, and in phyla that contain few cultured representatives. These data suggest that specific respiratory activity may be an important driver of bacterial diversity in composting environments. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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