Vertical distribution of ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms across a soil profile of the Chinese Loess Plateau and their responses to nitrogen inputs
The Science of the total environment | 18 Apr 2018
J Tao, T Bai, R Xiao, P Wang, F Wang, AM Duryee, Y Wang, Y Zhang and S Hu
Ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and bacteria (AOB) oxidize ammonia into nitrite, the first and rate-limiting step of microbial nitrification, and exert major controls over soil nitrogen transformations. The Loess Plateau in northwest China is characterized with deep soils that are often exposed to the surface and reactive nitrogen (N) inputs due to erosion and human removal of the surface soil. However, few have examined the distribution of AOA and AOB along the profile of Loess Plateau soils and their responses to N inputs. We examined the abundance and diversity of AOA and AOB along the soil profile (0-100cm) and their responses to two levels of N inputs (low at 10, and high at 100μgNg-1 soil) in a 55-d incubation experiment. While AOB were most numerous in the surface soil (0-20cm), AOA were most abundant in the subsoils (20-40 and 40-60cm), suggesting a niche differentiation between AOA and AOB along the soil profile. High N input increased AOB nearly ten-fold in the upper two layers of soils (0-20 and 20-40cm) and sixteen to twenty-five fold in the deeper soil layers (40-60, 60-80 and 80-100cm). However, it only increased AOA by 7% (40-60cm) to 48% (20-40cm). In addition, potential nitrification rate and N2O emissions correlated only with AOB. Finally, high N input significantly increased AOB diversity and led to nitrite accumulation in deep soil layers (60-80 and 80-100cm). Together, our results showed that high N input can significantly alter the diversity and function of ammonia-oxidizing microbes in the deep soil of Loess Plateau, suggesting the need to examine the generality of the observed changes and their potential environmental impacts.
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