2013 Volume 28 Issue 4 Pages 457-465
Ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and bacteria (AOB) play important roles in nitrification. However, limited information about the characteristics of AOA and AOB in the river ecosystem is available. The distribution and abundance of AOA and AOB in the sediments of the Dongjiang River, a drinking water source for Hong Kong, were investigated by clone library analysis and quantitative real-time PCR. Phylogenetic analysis showed that Group 1.1b- and Group 1.1b-associated sequences of AOA predominated in sediments with comparatively high carbon and nitrogen contents (e.g. total carbon (TC) >13 g kg-1 sediment, NH4+-N >144 mg kg-1 sediment), while Group 1.1a- and Group 1.1a-associated sequences were dominant in sediments with opposite conditions (e.g. TC <4 g kg-1 sediment, NH4+-N <93 mg kg-1 sediment). Although Nitrosomonas- and Nitrosospira-related sequences of AOB were detected in the sediments, nearly 70% of the sequences fell into the Nitrosomonas-like B cluster, suggesting similar sediment AOB communities along the river. Higher abundance of AOB than AOA was observed in almost all of the sediments in the Dongjiang River, while significant correlations were only detected between the distribution of AOA and the sediment pH and TC, which suggested that AOA responded more sensitively than AOB to variations of environmental factors. These results extend our knowledge about the environmental responses of ammonia oxidizers in the river ecosystem.