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ISME J. 2011 Dec;5(12):1896-904. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2011.60. Epub 2011 May 19.

Niche segregation of ammonia-oxidizing archaea and anammox bacteria in the Arabian Sea oxygen minimum zone.

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Department of Marine Organic Biogeochemistry, NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Den Burg, The Netherlands.


Ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and anaerobic ammonia-oxidizing (anammox) bacteria have emerged as significant factors in the marine nitrogen cycle and are responsible for the oxidation of ammonium to nitrite and dinitrogen gas, respectively. Potential for an interaction between these groups exists; however, their distributions are rarely determined in tandem. Here we have examined the vertical distribution of AOA and anammox bacteria through the Arabian Sea oxygen minimum zone (OMZ), one of the most intense and vertically exaggerated OMZs in the global ocean, using a unique combination of intact polar lipid (IPL) and gene-based analyses, at both DNA and RNA levels. To screen for AOA-specific IPLs, we developed a high-performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry method targeting hexose-phosphohexose (HPH) crenarchaeol, a common IPL of cultivated AOA. HPH-crenarchaeol showed highest abundances in the upper OMZ transition zone at oxygen concentrations of ca. 5  μM, coincident with peaks in both thaumarchaeotal 16S rDNA and amoA gene abundances and gene expression. In contrast, concentrations of anammox-specific IPLs peaked within the core of the OMZ at 600  m, where oxygen reached the lowest concentrations, and coincided with peak anammox 16S rDNA and the hydrazine oxidoreductase (hzo) gene abundances and their expression. Taken together, the data reveal a unique depth distribution of abundant AOA and anammox bacteria and the segregation of their respective niches by >400  m, suggesting no direct coupling of their metabolisms at the time and site of sampling in the Arabian Sea OMZ.

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