Major gradients in putatively nitrifying and non-nitrifying Archaea in the deep North Atlantic.
ABSTRACT Aerobic nitrification of ammonia to nitrite and nitrate is a key process in the oceanic nitrogen cycling mediated by prokaryotes. Apart from Bacteria belonging to the beta- and gamma-Proteobacteria involved in the first nitrification step, Crenarchaeota have recently been recognized as main drivers of the oxidation of ammonia to nitrite in soil as well as in the ocean, as indicated by the dominance of archaeal ammonia monooxygenase (amoA) genes over bacterial amoA. Evidence is accumulating that archaeal amoA genes are common in a wide range of marine systems. Essentially, all these reports focused on surface and mesopelagic (200-1,000 m depth) waters, where ammonia concentrations are higher than in waters below 1,000 m depth. However, Crenarchaeota are also abundant in the water column below 1,000 m, where ammonia concentrations are extremely low. Here we show that, throughout the North Atlantic Ocean, the abundance of archaeal amoA genes decreases markedly from subsurface waters to 4,000 m depth, and from subpolar to equatorial deep waters, leading to pronounced vertical and latitudinal gradients in the ratio of archaeal amoA to crenarchaeal 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes. The lack of significant copy numbers of amoA genes and the very low fixation rates of dark carbon dioxide in the bathypelagic North Atlantic suggest that most bathypelagic Crenarchaeota are not autotrophic ammonia oxidizers: most likely, they utilize organic matter and hence live heterotrophically.
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ABSTRACT: The occurrence of nitrification in the oceanic water column has implications extending from local effects on the structure and activity of phytoplankton communities to broader impacts on the speciation of nitrogenous nutrients and production of nitrous oxide. The ammonia-oxidizing archaea, responsible for carrying out the majority of nitrification in the sea, are present in the marine water column as two taxonomically distinct groups. Water column group A (WCA) organisms are detected at all depths, whereas Water column group B (WCB) are present primarily below the photic zone. An open question in marine biogeochemistry is whether the taxonomic definition of WCA and WCB organisms and their observed distributions correspond to distinct ecological and biogeochemical niches. We used the natural gradients in physicochemical and biological properties that upwelling establishes in surface waters to study their roles in nitrification, and how their activity-ascertained from quantification of ecotype-specific ammonia monooxygenase (amoA) genes and transcripts-varies in response to environmental fluctuations. Our results indicate a role for both ecotypes in nitrification in Monterey Bay surface waters. However, their respective contributions vary, due to their different sensitivities to surface water conditions. WCA organisms exhibited a remarkably consistent level of activity and their contribution to nitrification appears to be related to community size. WCB activity was less consistent and primarily constrained to colder, high nutrient and low chlorophyll waters. Overall, the results of our characterization yielded a strong, potentially predictive, relationship between archaeal amoA gene abundance and the rate of nitrification.The ISME Journal advance online publication, 20 February 2014; doi:10.1038/ismej.2014.11.The ISME Journal 02/2014; · 8.95 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: During the 2011 exploration season of the EV Nautilus in the Mediterranean Sea, we conducted a multidisciplinary study, aimed at exploring the microbial populations below the sediment-water interface (SWI) in the hydrocarbon rich environments of the Levantine basin. Two ~1000 m deep locations were sampled: sediments fueled by methane seepage at the toe of the Palmachim disturbance and a patch of euxinic sediment with high sulfide and methane content offshore Acre, enriched by hydrocarbon from an unknown source. We describe the composition of the microbial population in the top 5 cm of the sediment with 1 cm resolution, accompanied by measurements of methane and sulfate concentrations, and the isotopic composition of this methane and sulfate (δ(13) CCH 4 , δ(18) OSO 4 and δ(34) SSO 4 ). Our geochemical and microbiological results indicate the presence of the anaerobic methane oxidation (AOM) coupled to bacterial sulfate reduction (BSR). We show that complex methane and sulfur metabolizing microbial populations are present in both locations, although their community structure and metabolic preferences differ due to potential variation in the hydrocarbon source. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.FEMS Microbiology Ecology 03/2014; 87(3):780–796. · 3.56 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) are now implicated in exerting significant control over the form and availability of reactive nitrogen species in marine environments. Detailed studies of specific metabolic traits and physicochemical factors controlling their activities and distribution have not been well constrained in part due to the scarcity of isolated AOA strains. Here, we report the isolation of two new coastal marine AOA, strains PS0 and HCA1. Comparison of the new strains to Nitrosopumilus maritimus strain SCM1, the only marine AOA in pure culture thus far, demonstrated distinct adaptations to pH, salinity, organic carbon, temperature, and light. Strain PS0 sustained nearly 80% of ammonia oxidation activity at a pH as low as 5.9, indicating that coastal strains may be less sensitive to the ongoing reduction in ocean pH. Notably, the two novel isolates are obligate mixotrophs that rely on uptake and assimilation of organic carbon compounds, suggesting a direct coupling between chemolithotrophy and organic matter assimilation in marine food webs. All three isolates showed only minor photoinhibition at 15 µE⋅m(-2)⋅s(-1) and rapid recovery of ammonia oxidation in the dark, consistent with an AOA contribution to the primary nitrite maximum and the plausibility of a diurnal cycle of archaeal ammonia oxidation activity in the euphotic zone. Together, these findings highlight an unexpected adaptive capacity within closely related marine group I Archaea and provide new understanding of the physiological basis of the remarkable ecological success reflected by their generally high abundance in marine environments.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 08/2014;