Environmental biology

Abundance and diversity of ammonia-oxidizing archaea in response to various habitats in Pearl River Delta of China, a subtropical maritime zone

Zhixin Li , Wenbiao Jin , Zhaoyun Liang , Yangyang Yue , Junhong Lü


Received September 05, 2012,Revised January 07, 2013, Accepted , Available online June 06, 2013

Volume ,2013,Pages 1195-1205

Ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) are widely considered key to ammonia oxidation in various environments. However, little work has been conducted to simultaneously investigate the abundance and diversity of AOA as well as correlations between archaeal amoA genotypes and environmental parameters of different ecosystems at one district. To understand the abundance, diversity, and distribution of AOA in Pearl River Delta of China in response to various habitats, the archaeal amoA genes in soil, marine, river, lake, hot spring and wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) samples were investigated using real-time fluorescent quantitative PCR and clone libraries. Our analyses indicated that the diversity of AOA in various habitats was different and could be clustered into five major clades, i.e., estuary sediment, marine water/sediment, soil, hot spring and Cluster 1. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that the structure of AOA communities in similar ecological habitats exhibited strong relation. The canonical correspondence method indicated that the AOA community structure was strongly correlated to temperature, pH, total organic carbon, total nitrogen and dissolved oxygen variables. Assessing AOA amoA gene copy numbers, ranging from 6.84×106 to 9.45×107 copies/g in dry soil/sediment, and 6.06×106 to 2.41×107 copies/L in water samples, were higher than ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) by 1-2 orders of magnitude. However, AOA amoA copy numbers were much lower than AOB in WWTP activated sludge samples. Overall, these studies suggested that AOA may be a major contributor to ammonia oxidation in natural habitats but play a minor role in highly aerated activated sludge. The result also showed the ratio of AOA to AOB amoA gene abundance was positively correlated with temperature and less correlated with other environmental parameters. New data from our study provide increasing evidence for the relative abundance and diversity of ammonia-oxidizing archaea in the global nitrogen cycle.

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