, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 1335-1346
Date: 16 Nov 2013

Vertical distribution of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) in the hyporheic zone of a eutrophic river in North China

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Nitrification plays a significant role in the global nitrogen cycle, and this concept has been challenged with the discovery of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) in the environment. In this paper, the vertical variations of the diversity and abundance of AOA in the hyporheic zone of the Fuyang River in North China were investigated by molecular techniques, including clone libraries, phylogenetic analysis and real-time polymerase chain reaction. The archaeal amoA gene was detected in all sediments along the profile, and all AOA fell within marine group 1.1a and soil group1.1b of the Thaumarchaeota phylum, with the latter being the dominant type. The diversity of AOA decreased with the sediment depth, and there was a shift in AOA community between top-sediments (0–5 cm) and sub-sediments (5–70 cm). The abundance of the archaeal amoA gene (1.48 × 107 to 5.50 × 107 copies g−1 dry sediment) was higher than that of the bacterial amoA gene (4.01 × 104 to 1.75 × 10copies g−1 dry sediment) in sub-sediments, resulting in a log10 ratio of AOA to ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) from 2.27 to 2.69, whereas AOB outnumbered AOA in top-sediments with a low log10 ratio of (−0.24). The variations in the AOA community were primarily attributed to the combined effect of the nutrients (ammonium-N, nitrate-N and total organic carbon) and oxygen in sediments. Ammonium-N was the major factor influencing the relative abundance of AOA and AOB, although other factors, such as total organic carbon, were involved. This study helps elucidate the roles of AOA and AOB in the nitrogen cycling of hyporheic zone.