Genetic and phenotypic traits of streptomycetes used to characterize antibiotic activities of field-collected microbes

Anita L. Davelos, Kun Xiao, Jennifer M. Flor, Linda L. Kinkel

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29 Scopus citations


Although antibiotic production may contribute significantly to microbial fitness, there is limited information on the ecology of antibiotic-producing microbial populations in soil. Indeed, quantitative information on the variation in frequency and intensity of specific antibiotic inhibitory and resistance abilities within soil microbial communities is lacking. Among the streptomycetes, antibiotic production is highly variable and resistance to antibiotics is highly specific to individual microbial strains. The objective of this work was to genetically and phenotypically characterize a reference collection of streptomycetes for use in distinguishing inhibition and resistance phenotypes of field-collected microbes. Specifically, we examined inhibition and resistance abilities of all isolates in all possible pairwise combinations, genetic relatedness using BOX-PCR and 16S rDNA sequence analyses, nutrient utilization profiles, and antibiotic induction among all possible three-way combinations of isolates. Each streptomycete isolate possessed a unique set of phenotypic and genetic characteristics. However, there was little correspondence between phenotypic and genetic traits. This collection of reference isolates provides the potential for distinguishing 1024 inhibition and resistance phenotypes in field-collected microbes. Relationships between the genetic and phenotypic characteristics examined may provide preliminary insight into the distinct strategies that microbes use in optimizing their fitness in natural environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-89
Number of pages11
JournalCanadian Journal of Microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • 16S rDNA
  • Antibiotic inhibition
  • Nutrient utilization
  • Resistance


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