The abundance of ammonia-oxidising bacterial (AOB) and ammonia-oxidising archaeal (AOA) (amoA) genes and ammonia oxidation rates were compared bimonthly from July 2008 to May 2011 in 4 contrasting coastal sediments in the western English Channel. Despite a higher abundance of AOA amoA genes within all sediments and at all time-points, rates of ammonia oxidation correlated with AOB and not AOA amoA gene abundance. Sediment type was a major factor in determining both AOB amoA gene abundance and AOB community structure, possibly due to deeper oxygen penetration into the sandier sediments, increasing the area available for ammonia oxidation. Decreases in AOB amoA gene abundance were evident during summer and autumn, with maximum abundance and ammonia oxidation rates occurring in winter and early spring. PCR-DGGE of AOB amoA genes indicated that no seasonal changes to community composition occurred; however, a gradual movement in community composition occurred at 3 of the sites studied. The lack of correlation between AOA amoA gene abundance and ammonium oxidation rates, or any other environmental variable measured, may be related to the higher spatial variation amongst measurements, obscuring temporal trends, or the bimonthly sampling, which may have been too infrequent to capture temporal variability in the deposition of fresh organic matter. Alternatively, AOA may respond to changing substrate concentrations by an increase or decrease in transcript rather than gene abundance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science
- Ammonia oxidation
- Archaeal amoA gene
- Bacteria amoA gene