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Microb Ecol. 2019 Mar 22. doi: 10.1007/s00248-019-01359-x. [Epub ahead of print]

Ecological Success of the Nitrosopumilus and Nitrosospira Clusters in the Intertidal Zone.

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Department of Environmental Engineering, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resource and Environment, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, 150090, China.
Department of Environmental Engineering, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.
Zhejiang Province Key Laboratory for Water Pollution Control and Environmental Safety, Hangzhou, China.


The intertidal zone is an important buffer and a nitrogen sink between land and sea. Ammonia oxidation is the rate-limiting step of nitrification, conducted by ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB). However, it remains a debatable issue regarding dominant ammonia oxidizers in this region, and environmental factors driving their spatiotemporal niche differentiation have yet to be identified. In this study, intertidal and subtidal zones of Zhoushan Islands were selected for seasonal sampling. Ammonia-oxidizing activity, quantitative PCR, and 454 high-throughput sequencing were performed to study the nitrification potential, abundance, and community structure of ammonia-oxidizing archaea and bacteria. AOA and AOB amoA abundance (107-108amoA gene copies/g dry weight sediment) varied spatiotemporally independently of environmental factors. AOA surpassed AOB in most samples, driven by sediment temperature, moisture, and total nitrogen. The diversity of both AOA and AOB differed spatiotemporally. The Nitrosopumilus and Nitrosospira clusters accounted for an absolutely dominant percentage of AOA (> 99%) and AOB (> 99%) respectively, indicating a negligible contribution of other clusters to ammonia oxidation. However, there was no significant correlation between nitrification potential and the abundance of AOA or AOB. Overall, the present study showed that AOA dominated over AOB spatiotemporally in the intertidal zone of Zhoushan Islands due to fluctuations in environmental factors, and the Nitrosopumilus and Nitrosospira clusters ecologically succeeded in the intertidal zone of Zhoushan Islands.


Ammonia-oxidizing archaea; Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria; Dominance; Intertidal zone; Nitrosopumilus; Nitrosospira


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