Community structure and distribution of planktonic ammonia-oxidizing archaea and bacteria in the Dongjiang River, China

Wei Sun, Chunyu Xia, Meiying Xu, Jun Guo, Guoping Sun, Aijie Wang
Research in Microbiology 2014, 165 (8): 657-70
Ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and bacteria (AOB) are widely distributed in the natural environment and play crucial roles in the nitrification process and the removal of nitrogen (N). Although planktonic microbial community plays an important role in river biogeochemical cycles, few studies have attempted to address the characteristics of AOA and AOB in the water column of river ecosystems. This study examined the community structures, distributions and abundance of planktonic AOA and AOB in the Dongjiang River and their responses to the changes in environmental parameters through quantitative polymerase chain reaction, cloning, and sequencing of ammonia mono-oxygenase (amoA). The abundance ratio of AOB to AOA varied from 0.07 to 9.4 along the river and was positively correlated with the concentration of ammonium. Significantly positive correlations were observed between the abundance of AOB and potential nitrification rates, which suggested that the contribution of AOB to nitrification was greater than that of AOA in the river. Phylogenetic analyses showed that AOA communities could be divided into three branches of Thaumarchaeota: Group 1.1a, Group 1.1a associated and Group 1.1b, with most sequences belonging to Group 1.1a. All AOB sequences fell within Nitrosomonas and Nitrosospira species, and the majority of sequences were affiliated with the latter. Multivariate statistical analyses indicated that the community distributions of AOA and AOB were significantly correlated with the concentrations of nitrate and total suspended solids, respectively. These findings fundamentally improved our understanding of the role of planktonic AOA and AOB in nitrogen cycling and their responses to changes in environmental factors in the river ecosystem.

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