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Front Microbiol. 2013 Jan 22;3:445. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2012.00445. eCollection 2012.

Differential responses of ammonia-oxidizing archaea and bacteria to long-term fertilization in a New England salt marsh.

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1
Department of Biology, Connecticut College New London, CT, USA.

Abstract

Since the discovery of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA), new questions have arisen about population and community dynamics and potential interactions between AOA and ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB). We investigated the effects of long-term fertilization on AOA and AOB in the Great Sippewissett Marsh, Falmouth, MA, USA to address some of these questions. Sediment samples were collected from low and high marsh habitats in July 2009 from replicate plots that received low (LF), high (HF), and extra high (XF) levels of a mixed NPK fertilizer biweekly during the growing season since 1974. Additional untreated plots were included as controls (C). Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of the amoA genes revealed distinct shifts in AOB communities related to fertilization treatment, but the response patterns of AOA were less consistent. Four AOB operational taxonomic units (OTUs) predictably and significantly responded to fertilization, but only one AOA OTU showed a significant pattern. Betaproteobacterial amoA gene sequences within the Nitrosospira-like cluster dominated at C and LF sites, while sequences related to Nitrosomonas spp. dominated at HF and XF sites. We identified some clusters of AOA sequences recovered primarily from high fertilization regimes, but other clusters consisted of sequences recovered from all fertilization treatments, suggesting greater physiological diversity. Surprisingly, fertilization appeared to have little impact on abundance of AOA or AOB. In summary, our data reveal striking patterns for AOA and AOB in response to long-term fertilization, and also suggest a missing link between community composition and abundance and nitrogen processing in the marsh.

KEYWORDS:

Great Sippewissett Marsh; TRFLP; amoA; fertilization; salt marsh

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