Differential contributions of ammonia oxidizers and nitrite oxidizers to nitrification in four paddy soils

Baozhan Wang, Jun Zhao, Zhiying Guo, Jing Ma, Hua Xu, Zhongjun Jia
ISME Journal 2015, 9 (5): 1062-75
Rice paddy fields are characterized by regular flooding and nitrogen fertilization, but the functional importance of aerobic ammonia oxidizers and nitrite oxidizers under unique agricultural management is poorly understood. In this study, we report the differential contributions of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA), bacteria (AOB) and nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB) to nitrification in four paddy soils from different geographic regions (Zi-Yang (ZY), Jiang-Du (JD), Lei-Zhou (LZ) and Jia-Xing (JX)) that are representative of the rice ecosystems in China. In urea-amended microcosms, nitrification activity varied greatly with 11.9, 9.46, 3.03 and 1.43 μg NO3(-)-N g(-1) dry weight of soil per day in the ZY, JD, LZ and JX soils, respectively, over the course of a 56-day incubation period. Real-time quantitative PCR of amoA genes and pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA genes revealed significant increases in the AOA population to various extents, suggesting that their relative contributions to ammonia oxidation activity decreased from ZY to JD to LZ. The opposite trend was observed for AOB, and the JX soil stimulated only the AOB populations. DNA-based stable-isotope probing further demonstrated that active AOA numerically outcompeted their bacterial counterparts by 37.0-, 10.5- and 1.91-fold in (13)C-DNA from ZY, JD and LZ soils, respectively, whereas AOB, but not AOA, were labeled in the JX soil during active nitrification. NOB were labeled to a much greater extent than AOA and AOB, and the addition of acetylene completely abolished the assimilation of (13)CO2 by nitrifying populations. Phylogenetic analysis suggested that archaeal ammonia oxidation was predominantly catalyzed by soil fosmid 29i4-related AOA within the soil group 1.1b lineage. Nitrosospira cluster 3-like AOB performed most bacterial ammonia oxidation in the ZY, LZ and JX soils, whereas the majority of the (13)C-AOB in the JD soil was affiliated with the Nitrosomona communis lineage. The (13)C-NOB was overwhelmingly dominated by Nitrospira rather than Nitrobacter. A significant correlation was observed between the active AOA/AOB ratio and the soil oxidation capacity, implying a greater advantage of AOA over AOB under microaerophilic conditions. These results suggest the important roles of soil physiochemical properties in determining the activities of ammonia oxidizers and nitrite oxidizers.

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