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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2010 Dec;76(23):7691-8. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01324-10. Epub 2010 Oct 1.

Evidence for different contributions of archaea and bacteria to the ammonia-oxidizing potential of diverse Oregon soils.

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  • 1Department of Crop and Soil Science, 3017 ALS, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.


A method was developed to determine the contributions of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) to the nitrification potentials (NPs) of soils taken from forest, pasture, cropped, and fallowed (19 years) lands. Soil slurries were exposed to acetylene to irreversibly inactivate ammonia monooxygenase, and upon the removal of acetylene, the recovery of nitrification potential (RNP) was monitored in the presence and absence of bacterial or eukaryotic protein synthesis inhibitors. For unknown reasons, and despite measureable NPs, RNP did not occur consistently in forest soil samples; however, pasture, cropped, and fallowed soil RNPs commenced after lags that ranged from 12 to 30 h after acetylene removal. Cropped soil RNP was completely prevented by the bacterial protein synthesis inhibitor kanamycin (800 μg/ml), whereas a combination of kanamycin plus gentamicin (800 μg/ml each) only partially prevented the RNP (60%) of fallowed soils. Pasture soil RNP was completely insensitive to either kanamycin, gentamicin, or a combination of the two. Unlike cropped soil, pasture and fallowed soil RNPs occurred at both 30°C and 40°C and without supplemental NH(4)(+) (≤ 10 μM NH(4)(+) in solution), and pasture soil RNP demonstrated ∼ 50% insensitivity to 100 μM allyl thiourea (ATU). In addition, fallowed and pasture soil RNPs were insensitive to the fungal inhibitors nystatin and azoxystrobin. This combination of properties suggests that neither fungi nor AOB contributed to pasture soil RNP and that AOA were responsible for the RNP of the pasture soils. Both AOA and AOB may contribute to RNP in fallowed soil, while RNP in cropped soils was dominated by AOB.

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