Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 20, Issue 9, pp 6646–6657 | Cite as

Abundance of denitrification genes under different peizometer depths in four Irish agricultural groundwater sites

  • Maria Barrett
  • Mohammad M. R. Jahangir
  • Changsoo Lee
  • Cindy J. Smith
  • Niamh Bhreathnach
  • Gavin Collins
  • Karl G. Richards
  • Vincent O’Flaherty
Research Article

Abstract

This study examined the relationship between the abundance of bacterial denitrifiers in groundwater at four sites, differing with respect to overlaying land management and peizometer depth. Groundwater was sourced from 36 multilevel piezometers, which were installed to target different groundwater zones: (1) subsoil, (2) subsoil to bedrock interface, and (3) bedrock. The gene copy concentrations (GCCs), as gene copies per liter, for bacterial 16S rRNA genes and the denitrifying functional genes, nirK, nirS, and nosZ, were determined using quantitative polymerase chain reaction assays. The results were related to gaseous nitrogen emissions and to the physicochemical properties of the four sites. Overall, nirK and nirS abundance appeared to show no significant correlation to N2O production (P = 0.9989; P = 0.3188); and no significant correlation was observed between nosZ and excess N2 concentrations (P = 0.0793). In the majority of piezometers investigated, the variation of nirK and nirS gene copy concentrations was considered significant (P < 0.0001). Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) decreased with aquifer depth and ranged from 1.0–4.0 mg l−1, 0.9–2.4 mg l−1, and 0.8–2.4 mg l−1 within piezometers located in the subsoil, subsoil/bedrock interface, and bedrock depths, respectively. The availability of increasing DOC and the depth of the water table were positively correlated with increasing nir and nosZ GCCs (P = 0.0012). A significant temporal correlation was noted between nirS and piezometer depth (P < 0.001). Interestingly, the nirK, nirS, and nosZ GCCs varied between piezometer depths within specific sites, while GCCs remained relatively constant from site to site, thus indicating no direct impact of agricultural land management strategies investigated on denitrifier abundance.

Keywords

Denitrification Subsoil Piezometer Groundwater nirK nirS nosZ qPCR 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Barrett
    • 1
  • Mohammad M. R. Jahangir
    • 2
  • Changsoo Lee
    • 3
    • 9
  • Cindy J. Smith
    • 4
    • 5
  • Niamh Bhreathnach
    • 1
  • Gavin Collins
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
  • Karl G. Richards
    • 8
  • Vincent O’Flaherty
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Microbial Ecology Laboratory, School of Natural SciencesNational University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway)GalwayIreland
  2. 2.Civil, Structural & Environmental EngineeringTrinity College DublinDublin 2Ireland
  3. 3.School of Civil & Environmental EngineeringNanyang Technological UniversityNanyangSingapore
  4. 4.Marine Microbial Ecology Laboratory, School of Natural SciencesNUI GalwayGalwayIreland
  5. 5.Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine & Energy ResearchNUI GalwayGalwayIreland
  6. 6.Microbial Ecophysiology Laboratory, School of Natural SciencesNUI GalwayGalwayIreland
  7. 7.Infrastructure and Environment, School of EngineeringUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  8. 8.Teagasc Environment Research CentreJohnstown Castle, CoWexfordIreland
  9. 9.School of Urban & Environmental EngineeringUlsan National Institute of Science & TechnologyUlsanRepublic of Korea

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