Dynamics of ammonia-oxidizing archaea and bacteria populations and contributions to soil nitrification potentials

Anne E Taylor, Lydia H Zeglin, Thomas A Wanzek, David D Myrold, Peter J Bottomley
ISME Journal 2012, 6 (11): 2024-32
It is well known that the ratio of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and bacteria (AOB) ranges widely in soils, but no data exist on what might influence this ratio, its dynamism, or how changes in relative abundance influences the potential contributions of AOA and AOB to soil nitrification. By sampling intensively from cropped-to-fallowed and fallowed-to-cropped phases of a 2-year wheat/fallow cycle, and adjacent uncultivated long-term fallowed land over a 15-month period in 2010 and 2011, evidence was obtained for seasonal and cropping phase effects on the soil nitrification potential (NP), and on the relative contributions of AOA and AOB to the NP that recovers after acetylene inactivation in the presence and absence of bacterial protein synthesis inhibitors. AOB community composition changed significantly (P0.0001) in response to cropping phase, and there were both seasonal and cropping phase effects on the amoA gene copy numbers of AOA and AOB. Our study showed that the AOA:AOB shifts were generated by a combination of different phenomena: an increase in AOA amoA abundance in unfertilized treatments, compared with their AOA counterparts in the N-fertilized treatment; a larger population of AOB under the N-fertilized treatment compared with the AOB community under unfertilized treatments; and better overall persistence of AOA than AOB in the unfertilized treatments. These data illustrate the complexity of the factors that likely influence the relative contributions of AOA and AOB to nitrification under the various combinations of soil conditions and NH(4)(+)-availability that exist in the field.

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