Plant and Soil

, Volume 287, Issue 1–2, pp 177–186 | Cite as

Genetic structure and activity of the nitrate-reducers community in the rhizosphere of different cultivars of maize

  • Laurent Philippot
  • Melanie Kuffner
  • D. Chèneby
  • G. Depret
  • G. Laguerre
  • F. Martin-Laurent
Original Paper


In this study, the structure and activity of the nitrate-reducers community were analysed in bulk and rhizospheric soils from three different non-isogenic transgenic cultivars of maize (two Bacillus thuringiensis maize and one glyphosate-resistant maize) in a long-term field experiment. DNA was extracted from both rhizospheric and non-rhizospheric soil sampled at three different development stages of the plants and amplified using primers targeting the genes encoding the␣membrane-bound nitrate reductase (narG). Nitrate-reducers community structure was analysed by generating fingerprints and sequencing of narG clone libraries. The season seems to be the most important factor controlling the genetic structure of the nitrate-reducers community. Smaller differences in the narG fingerprints were also observed between bulk and rhizospheric soils suggesting that presence of maize roots was the second important factor affecting the structure of this functional community. Similarly, a rhizosphere effect was observed on the nitrate reductase activity with a 2–3-fold increased in the rhizospheric soil compared to the non-rhizospheric soil. However, for both structure and activity of the nitrate-reducers community, no effect of the maize cultivar was observed. This study suggests that the effect of the cultivar and/or of the agricultural practices associated with the cultivation of transgenic maize is not significant compared to the effect of other environmental factors.


Denitrification GMO Maize Nitrate reductase narG Nitrate-reducers Pesticide 


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The authors would like to thank C.␣Dambreville for performing the statistical analysis. They also would like to thank ITCF, AGPM and Arvalis for providing access to the Biovigilance assay of Varois et Chaignot. G. Blache (Monsanto Europe) and D. Block (Arvalis) are acknowledged for helpful discussions. The SSG is also thanks for giving access to sequencing facilities. The work was supported by a grant from the MENRT.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurent Philippot
    • 1
  • Melanie Kuffner
    • 1
  • D. Chèneby
    • 1
  • G. Depret
    • 1
  • G. Laguerre
    • 1
  • F. Martin-Laurent
    • 1
  1. 1.Soil Microbiology and Geochemistry, CMSE, UMR Microbiologie et Géochimie des SolsINRA—Université de BourgogneDijon CedexFrance

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