Spatial and temporal diversity and abundance of ammonia oxidizers in semi-arid and arid soils: Indications for a differential seasonal effect on archaeal and bacterial ammonia oxidizers

Yonatan Sher, Eli Zaady, Ali Nejidat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

Besides water, nitrogen is the limiting factor for biomass production in arid ecosystems. Global climatic changes are exacerbating aridity levels, and the response of nitrogen-transforming microorganisms to these changes is not clear yet. Using semi-arid and arid ecosystems as surrogates for conditions of increased aridity, we investigated the activity, abundance, and diversity of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and archaea (AOA) in arid and semi-arid soils. Ammonia oxidation potentials were higher during the winter in both sites than in the summer, and higher nitrate concentrations were measured in the arid soil than in the semi-arid soil. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) patterns of AOB 16S rRNA gene fragments were similar for the arid and semi-arid soils with no seasonal variations. In contrast, the DGGE patterns of the AOA amoA gene fragments differed between the sites and a soil transfer experiment suggested that these differences are possibly associated with soil type. AOB numbers were higher during the winter than in the summer, while AOA numbers were higher during the summer. The results indicate the resistance of AOB and AOA community structure to arid conditions, albeit with seasonal variations in their abundance. Together, the results suggest the resilience of nitrification activity to increased aridity level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)544-556
Number of pages13
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Volume86
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2013

Keywords

  • Ammonia-oxidizing archaea
  • Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria
  • Desert ecosystems
  • Inorganic nitrogen

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