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 studied fairly well, 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 sequencing, and correlated changes in deduced taxonomic profiles with the physicochemical characteristics of the soil. DNAs were purified from soil samples, and the 16S rRNA gene was 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 indices of the samples varied from 4.12 to 3.57, indicating that the soils have a high level of diversity. Statistical analysis showed that the bacterial diversity is influenced by factors such as altitude, Ca2+/Mg 2+ ratio, and Al3+ and phosphorus content, which also affected the diversity within the same lineage. In the samples analyzed, pH had no significant impact on diversity. Copyright © 2010. American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
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