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Differential response of ammonia‐oxidizing archaea and bacteria to the wetting of salty arid soil

Sher, Yonatan, Ronen, Zeev, Nejidat, Ali
Journal of basic microbiology 2016 v.56 no.8 pp. 900-906
ammonia monooxygenase, arid soils, bacteria, canopy, ecosystems, genes, halophytes, messenger RNA, nitrification, rain, shrubs, summer, water content
Ammonia‐oxidizing archaea and bacteria (AOA, AOB) catalyze the first and rate‐limiting step of nitrification. To examine their differential responses to the wetting of dry and salty arid soil, AOA and AOB amoA genes (encoding subunit A of the ammonia monooxygenase) and transcripts were enumerated in dry (summer) and wet (after the first rainfall) soil under the canopy of halophytic shrubs and between the shrubs. AOA and AOB were more abundant under shrub canopies than between shrubs in both the dry and wetted soil. Soil wetting caused a significant decrease in AOB abundance under the canopy and an increase of AOA between the shrubs. The abundance of the archaeal amoA gene transcript was similar for both the wet and dry soil, and the transcript‐to‐gene ratios were < 1 independent of niche or water content. In contrast, the bacterial amoA transcript‐to‐gene ratios were between 78 and 514. The lowest ratio was in dry soil under the canopy and the highest in the soil between the shrubs. The results suggest that the AOA are more resilient to stress conditions and maintain a basic activity in arid ecosystems, while the AOB are more responsive to changes in the biotic and abiotic conditions.