Low Turnover of Soil Bacterial rRNA at Low Temperatures

Morten Dencker Schostag, Christian Nyrop Albers, Carsten Suhr Jacobsen, Anders Priemé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) is used widely to investigate potentially active microorganisms in environmental samples, including soil microorganisms and other microbial communities that are subjected to pronounced seasonal variation in temperature. This raises a question about the turnover of intracellular microbial rRNA at environmentally relevant temperatures. We analyzed the turnover at four temperatures of RNA isolated from soil bacteria amended with 14C-labeled uridine. We found that the half-life of recently produced RNA increased from 4.0 days at 20°C to 15.8 days at 4°C, and 215 days at −4°C, while no degradation was detected at −18°C during a 1-year period. We discuss the implications of the strong temperature dependency of rRNA turnover for interpretation of microbiome data based on rRNA isolated from environmental samples.

Original languageEnglish
Article number962
Number of pages5
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2020


  • environmental RNA
  • ribosomal RNA
  • rRNA half-life
  • temperature response
  • uridine

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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