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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2010 Jul;87(3):1167-76. doi: 10.1007/s00253-010-2595-2. Epub 2010 Apr 20.

Characterization and quantification of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and bacteria (AOB) in a nitrogen-removing reactor using T-RFLP and qPCR.

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  • 1Environmental Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong, SAR, China.


Using ammonia monooxygenase alpha-subunit (amoA) gene and 16S rRNA gene, the community structure and abundance of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in a nitrogen-removing reactor, which was operated for five phases, were characterized and quantified by cloning, terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP), and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). The results suggested that the dominant AOB in the reactor fell to the genus Nitrosomonas, while the dominant AOA belonged to Crenarchaeotal Group I.1a in phylum Crenarchaeota. Real-time PCR results demonstrated that the levels of AOB amoA varied from 2.9 x 10(3) to 2.3 x 10(5) copies per nanogram DNA, greatly (about 60 times) higher than those of AOA, which ranged from 1.7 x 10(2) to 3.8 x 10(3) copies per nanogram DNA. This indicated the possible leading role of AOB in the nitrification process in this study. T-RFLP results showed that the AOB community structure significantly shifted in different phases while AOA only showed one major peak for all the phases. The analyses also suggested that the AOB community was more sensitive than that of AOA to operational conditions, such as ammonia loading and dissolved oxygen.

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