Chemolithoautotrophic Nitrifiers in the Phyllosphere of a Spruce Ecosystem Receiving High Atmospheric Nitrogen Input
Evidence is presented for the first time that chemolithoautotrophic ammonia oxidizers (CAO) and chemolithoautotrophic nitrite oxidizers (CNO) colonize in appreciable cell numbers the phyllosphere of spruce trees in a forest ecosystem exposed for decades to high levels of atmospheric nitrogen (The Höglwald Forest, Bavaria, Germany). The results strongly indicate that both, CAO and CNO are predominantely located inside the spruce needles, most likely within the stomatal cavity. These results are further supported by field experiments of NH3 uptake into twigs on intact spruce trees in the presence and absence of 10 Pa acetylene, an inhibitor of the ammonia monooxygenase of CAO. It is clearly demonstrated for the first time that in situ uptake of NH3 from the atmosphere into spruce needles exposed to high levels of atmospheric N is not catalyzed exclusively by the tree, but is the result of combined activities of both, the spruce trees and the chemolithoautotrophic nitrifiers colonizing the needles.
KeywordsNitrogen Atmosphere Ammonia Nitrite Field Experiment
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