Community composition of ammonia-oxidizing archaea from surface and anoxic depths of oceanic oxygen minimum zones

Xuefeng Peng, Amal Jayakumar, Bettie Ward

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Ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) have been reported at high abundance in much of the global ocean, even in environments, such as pelagic oxygen minimum zones (OMZs), where conditions seem unlikely to support aerobic ammonium oxidation. Due to the lack of information on any potential alternative metabolism of AOA, the AOA community composition might be expected to differ between oxic and anoxic environments. This hypothesis was tested by evaluating AOA community composition using a functional genemicroarray that targets the ammonia monooxygenase gene subunit A (amoA). The relationship between environmental parameters and the biogeography of the Arabian Sea and the Eastern Tropical South Pacific(ETSP) AOA assemblages was investigated using principal component analysis (PCA) and redundancy analysis (RDA). In both the Arabian Sea and the ETSP, AOA communities within the core of the OMZ were not significantly different from those inhabiting the oxygenated surface waters above the OMZ. The AOA communities in the Arabian Sea were significantly different from those in the ETSP. In both oceans, the abundance of archaeal amoA gene in the core of the OMZ was higher than that in the surface waters. Our results indicate that AOA communities are distinguished by their geographic origin. RDA suggested that temperature (higher in the Arabian Sea than in the ETSP) was the main factor that correlated withthe differences between the AOA communities. Physicochemical properties that characterized the different environments of the OMZ and surface waters played a less important role, than did geography, in shaping the AOA community composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberJUL
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Microbiology


  • Ammonia-Oxidizing archaea
  • Arabian sea
  • Community composition
  • Eastern Tropical South Pacific
  • Oxygen minimum zone
  • QPCR


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