Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and archaea grow under contrasting soil nitrogen conditions

Hong J Di, Keith C Cameron, Ju-Pei Shen, Chris S Winefield, Maureen O'Callaghan, Saman Bowatte, Ji-Zheng He
FEMS Microbiology Ecology 2010, 72 (3): 386-94
Nitrification is a key process of the nitrogen (N) cycle in soil with major environmental implications. The recent discovery of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) questions the traditional assumption of the dominant role of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in nitrification. We investigated AOB and AOA growth and nitrification rate in two different layers of three grassland soils treated with animal urine substrate and a nitrification inhibitor [dicyandiamide (DCD)]. We show that AOB were more abundant in the topsoils than in the subsoils, whereas AOA were more abundant in one of the subsoils. AOB grew substantially when supplied with a high dose of urine substrate, whereas AOA only grew in the Controls without the urine-N substrate. AOB growth and the amoA gene transcription activity were significantly inhibited by DCD. Nitrification rates were much higher in the topsoils than in the subsoils and were significantly related to AOB abundance, but not to AOA abundance. These results suggest that AOB and AOA prefer different soil N conditions to grow: AOB under high ammonia (NH(3)) substrate and AOA under low NH(3) substrate conditions.

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