The Brazilian Atlantic Forest is one of the 25 biodiversity hot-spots in the world. Although the diversity of its fauna and flora has been fairly studied, little is known of its microbial communities. In this work we analyzed the Atlantic Forest ecosystem to determine its bacterial biodiversity using 16S rRNA gene (16S rDNA) sequencing and correlated changes in deduced taxonomic profiles with the physico-chemical characteristics of the soil. DNA was purified from soil samples and the 16S rRNA gene amplified to construct libraries. Comparison of 754 independent 16S rRNA gene sequences from 10 soil samples collected along a transect in an altitude gradient showed the prevalence of Acidobacteria (63%) followed by Proteobacteria (25.2%), Gemmatimonadetes (1.6%), Actinobacteria (1.2%), Bacteroidetes (1%), Chloroflexi (0.66%), Nitrospira (0.4%), Planctomycetes (0.4%), Firmicutes (0.26%) and OP10 (0.13%). Forty eight sequences (6.5%) represented unidentified bacteria. The Shannon diversity index of the samples varied from 4.12 to 3.57, indicating that the soils have a high diversity. Statistical analysis showed that the bacterial diversity is influenced by factors, such as the altitude, Ca2+/Mg2+ ratio, Al3+ and phosphorus content, which also affected the diversity within the same lineage. In the samples analyzed, pH had no significant impact on the diversity.
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