In this work the analysis of the plasmid presence on soil aerobic cultivable heterotrophic bacterial communities was carried out checking a panel of 1,200 isolates, in order to establish the frequency of plasmid presence as well as the degree of plasmid flow between strains affiliated to the same or different taxon. Bacterial communities were isolated from two different sites of a 13-year experimental field with a clay-silt texture. Plasmid molecules were detected at low frequency (27 isolates, 2%) with a size ranging between 2 Kb and 40 Kb. The RAPD analysis performed on the plasmid-harboring isolates and the phylogenetic analysis of the whole community using the 16S rRNA gene sequences revealed the existence of transfer of the same plasmids between strains belonging to the same species and, in some cases, to different species of the same genus. As it might be expected, even though the viable cells title did not differ significantly between the two samplings, the overall data disclosed an uneven distribution of both species and plasmid-harboring strains.

Keywords: Horizontal gene transfer, plasmids, r-K strategy, soil.
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