2008 Volume 23 Issue 4 Pages 337-345
Denitrification activity and bacterial community constituents were investigated in both well-drained and poorly drained soils of a temperate forest in central Japan by 15N tracer experiments and a cloning-sequencing approach. Denitrification activity was much higher in wet soil than in dry soil, based on 15N15N (30N2) and 15N15NO (46N2O) production. Labeled nitrate (15NO3-) was immediately reduced to 30N2 in wet soil, whereas it was only reduced to 46N2O in dry soil. Thus, the wet soil at the lower end of the catchment is a functional site for the scavenging for NO3- and N2O. Nitrite reductase gene (nirK and nirS) fragments from these soils were PCR amplified, cloned, and sequenced. Both nirK and nirS fragments were detected in the wet soil, whereas only nirK fragments were detected in the dry soil. All the nirK and nirS clones showed less than 90% similarity to known clones. Numerous operational taxonomic units for nirK and nirS were found in the wet soil. Considerable diversification within the largest clade on the nirK phylogenetic tree, which contained no known sequence, was observed in wet soil. Thus, a wet soil environment can provide both the habitat and conditions for the expression of denitrification activity.