Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) is commonly utilized to identify and quantify microbial diversity, but the conditions required for different electrophoretic systems to yield equivalent results and optimal resolution have not been assessed. Herein, the influence of different DGGE system configuration parameters on microbial diversity estimates was tested using Symbiodinium, a group of marine eukaryotic microbes that are important constituents of coral reef ecosystems. To accomplish this, bacterial clone libraries were constructed and sequenced from cultured isolates of Symbiodinium for the ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) region. From these, 15 clones were subjected to PCR with a GC clamped primer set for DGGE analyses. Migration behaviors of the resulting amplicons were analyzed using a range of conditions, including variation in the composition of the denaturing gradient, electrophoresis time, and applied voltage. All tests were conducted in parallel on two commercial DGGE systems, a C. B. S. Scientific DGGE-2001, and the Bio-Rad DCode system. In this context, identical nucleotide fragments exhibited differing migration behaviors depending on the model of apparatus utilized, with fragments denaturing at a lower gradient concentration and applied voltage on the Bio-Rad DCode system than on the C. B. S. Scientific DGGE-2001 system. Although equivalent PCR-DGGE profiles could be achieved with both brands of DGGE system, the composition of the denaturing gradient and application of electrophoresis time × voltage must be appropriately optimized to achieve congruent results across platforms. © Springer-Verlag 2009.