Niche differentiation of ammonia-oxidising archaea (AOA) and bacteria (AOB) in response to paper and pulp mill effluent

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Abell, GCJ, Ross, DJ, Keane, J, Holmes, BH, Robert, SS, Keough, MJ, Eyre, BD & Volkman, JK 2014, 'Niche differentiation of ammonia-oxidising archaea (AOA) and bacteria (AOB) in response to paper and pulp mill effluent', Microbial Ecology, vol. 67, no. 4, pp. 758-768.

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Sediment organic loading has been shown to affect estuarine nitrification and denitrification, resulting in changes to sediment biogeochemistry and nutrient fluxes detrimental to estuarine health. This study examined the effects of organic loading on nutrient fluxes and microbial communities in sediments receiving effluent from a paper and pulp mill (PPM) by applying microcosm studies and molecular microbial ecology techniques. Three sites near the PPM outfall were compared to three control sites, one upstream and two downstream of the outfall. The control sites showed coupled nitrification-denitrification with minimal ammonia release from the sediment. In contrast, the impacted sites were characterised by nitrate uptake and substantial ammonia efflux from the sediments, consistent with a decoupling of nitrification and denitrification. Analysis of gene diversity demonstrated that the composition of nitrifier communities was not significantly different at the impacted sites compared to the control sites; however, analysis of gene abundance indicated that whilst there was no difference in total bacteria, total archaea or ammonia-oxidising archaea (AOA) abundance between the control and impacted sites, there was a significant reduction in ammonia-oxidising bacteria (AOB) at the impacted sites. The results of this study demonstrate an effect of organic loading on estuarine sediment biogeochemistry and highlight an apparent niche differentiation between AOA and AOB.

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