Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 1005–1016 | Cite as

Differentiation of nitrogen and microbial community in the littoral and limnetic sediments of a large shallow eutrophic lake (Chaohu Lake, China)

  • Weidong Wang
  • Weiyue Liu
  • Di Wu
  • Xiaoxia Wang
  • Guibing ZhuEmail author
Sediments, Sec 2 • Physical and Biogeochemical Processes • Research Article



Nitrogen (N) is one of the major elements causing eutrophication in freshwater lakes, and the N cycle is mainly driven by microorganisms. Lake littoral zones are found to be “hotspots” for N removal from both the basin and receiving waters. However, the environmental factors that drive the distribution of microorganisms are diverse and unclear. Here, we examined the differentiation of nitrogen and microbial community between the littoral and limnetic sediments to explore their interactions.

Materials and methods

Sediment samples were collected in the littoral and limnetic zones of Chaohu Lake in winter (ca. 7 °C) and autumn (ca. 22 °C). Abundances of the bacterial and archaeal genes amoA (ammoxidation), nirS and nirK (denitrification), hzsB (anaerobic ammonium oxidation; anammox), and nrfA (dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium; DNRA) were measured via quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Clone libraries were constructed for further phylogenetic analysis to study the community composition.

Results and discussion

We observed significant higher concentration values in terms of sedimentary NH4+-N and NO3-N in the limnetic zone than littoral zone (p < 0.05; n = 12). In general, abundance values of the above six genes in the littoral zone were all higher than those in the limnetic zone, while higher in winter (7 °C) than in autumn (22 °C) (p < 0.05; n = 6). The spatial heterogeneity had the most significant effect on the distribution of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and anammox bacteria abundance. Both temporal (temperature) and spatial heterogeneity affected the abundance of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB). The variation in the abundance of denitrifying bacteria and DNRA bacteria mainly reflected the temporal (temperature) heterogeneity.


The six N-cycle-related microorganisms were affected by different environmental factors and presented different distribution patterns. The lower nitrogen content and the higher microbial abundance and diversity showed that the littoral zone was the “hotspot” of N-cycling-related microorganisms in a large, eutrophic, and turbid lake. It is suggested that increasing the area and restoring the ecological function of the littoral zone was effective and significant in eutrophic lake management.


Abundance Eutrophic freshwater lake Littoral zone Microbial N-cycle Sediment 



This research is financially supported by the Major National Water Pollution Control and Management Project (2014ZX07405-003 and 2017ZX07201004-002), National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41671471, 41322012 and 51278487), Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDB15020303), National Key R&D Program (2016YFA0602303), Local Innovative and Research Teams Project of Guangdong Pearl River Talents Program (2017BT01Z176), special fund from the State Key Joint Laboratory of Environment Simulation and Pollution Control (Research Center for Eco-environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences) (18Z02ESPCR), Open Research Fund of Key Laboratory of Drinking Water Science and Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (16Z03KLDWST), CAS/SAFEA International Partnership Program for Creative Research Teams, and Jiaxing Science and Technology Project (2015AY23008). The author Guibing Zhu gratefully acknowledges the support of a Humboldt Research Fellowship (1152633), and Program of the Youth Innovation Promotion Association (CAS).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11368_2018_2090_MOESM1_ESM.doc (40 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 39 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Drinking Water Science and Technology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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