Changes in Benthic denitrification, nitrate ammonification, and anammox process rates and nitrate and nitrite reductase gene abundances along an estuarine nutrient gradient (the Colne Estuary, United Kingdom)

Dong, L.F., Smith, C.J. , Papaspyrou, S., Stott, A., Osborn, A.M. and Nedwell, D.B. (2009) Changes in Benthic denitrification, nitrate ammonification, and anammox process rates and nitrate and nitrite reductase gene abundances along an estuarine nutrient gradient (the Colne Estuary, United Kingdom). Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 75(10), pp. 3171-3179. (doi:10.1128/AEM.02511-08) (PMID:19304834) (PMCID:PMC2681644)

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Abstract

Estuarine sediments are the location for significant bacterial removal of anthropogenically derived inorganic nitrogen, in particular nitrate, from the aquatic environment. In this study, rates of benthic denitrification (DN), dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA), and anammox (AN) at three sites along a nitrate concentration gradient in the Colne estuary, United Kingdom, were determined, and the numbers of functional genes (narG, napA, nirS, and nrfA) and corresponding transcripts encoding enzymes mediating nitrate reduction were determined by reverse transcription-quantitative PCR. In situ rates of DN and DNRA decreased toward the estuary mouth, with the findings from slurry experiments suggesting that the potential for DNRA increased while the DN potential decreased as nitrate concentrations declined. AN was detected only at the estuary head, accounting for ∼30% of N2 formation, with 16S rRNA genes from anammox-related bacteria also detected only at this site. Numbers of narG genes declined along the estuary, while napA gene numbers were stable, suggesting that NAP-mediated nitrate reduction remained important at low nitrate concentrations. nirS gene numbers (as indicators of DN) also decreased along the estuary, whereas nrfA (an indicator for DNRA) was detected only at the two uppermost sites. Similarly, nitrate and nitrite reductase gene transcripts were detected only at the top two sites. A regression analysis of log(n + 1) process rate data and log(n + 1) mean gene abundances showed significant relationships between DN and nirS and between DNRA and nrfA. Although these log-log relationships indicate an underlying relationship between the genetic potential for nitrate reduction and the corresponding process activity, fine-scale environmentally induced changes in rates of nitrate reduction are likely to be controlled at cellular and protein levels.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council of the United Kingdom through research grant NER/A/S/ 2002/00962, awarded to D.B.N. and A.M.O. S.P. was supported by Marie-Curie intra-European fellowship 024108 from the European Commission.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Smith, Dr Cindy
Authors: Dong, L.F., Smith, C.J., Papaspyrou, S., Stott, A., Osborn, A.M., and Nedwell, D.B.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Infrastructure and Environment
Journal Name:Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Publisher:American Society for Microbiology
ISSN:0099-2240
ISSN (Online):1098-5336
Published Online:20 March 2009

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