Spatiotemporal stability of an ammonia oxidizing community in a nitrogen-saturated forest soil

A.M. Laverman, A.G.C.L. Speksnijder, M. Braster, G.A. Kowalchuk, H.A. Verhoef, H.W. Verseveld

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    71 Citations (Scopus)


    Elevated levels of nitrogen input into various terrestrial environments in recent decades have led to increases in soil nitrate production and leaching. However, nitrifying potential and nitrifying activity tend to be highly variable over space and time, making broad-scale estimates of nitrate production difficult. This study investigates whether the high spatiotemporal variation in nitrate production might be explained by differences in the structure of ammonia-oxidizing bacterial communities in nitrogen-saturated coniferous forest soils. The diversity of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria of the b-subgroup Proteobacteria was therefore investigated using two different PCR-based approaches. The first targeted the 16S rRNA gene and involved temporal temperature gradient electrophoresis (TTGE) of specifically amplified PCR products, with subsequent band excision and nucleotide sequence determination. The second approach involved the cloning and sequencing of PCR-amplified amoA gene fragments. All recovered 16S rDNA sequences were closely related to the culture strain Nitrosospira sp. AHB1, which was isolated from an acid soil and is affiliated with Nitrosospira cluster 2, a sequence group previously shown to be associated with acid environments. All amoA-like sequences also showed a close affinity with this acid-tolerant Nitrosospira strain, although greater sequence variation could be detected in the amoA analysis. The ammonia-oxidizing bacterial community in the nitrogen-saturated coniferous forest soil was determined to be very stable, showing little variation between different organic layers and throughout the year, despite large differences in the total Bacterial community structure as determined by 16S rDNA DGGE community fingerprinting. These results suggest that environmental heterogeneity affecting ammonia oxidizer numbers and activity, and not ammonia oxidizer community structure, is chiefly responsible for spatial and temporal variation in nitrate production in these acid forest soils.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)35-45
    JournalMicrobial Ecology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


    • gradient gel-electrophoresis
    • 16s ribosomal-rna
    • vertical-distribution
    • class proteobacteria
    • beta-subdivision
    • gene-sequences
    • bacteria
    • nitrification
    • populations
    • diversity


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