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Vol. 9, No. 5, 20
14, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097068

Abundance and Diversity of Ammonia-Oxidizing Archaea and Bacteria in Sediments of Trophic End Members of the Laurentian Great Lakes, Erie and Superior

Annette Bollmann, George S. Bullerjahn, Robert Michael McKay

Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA), Spain.


Ammonia oxidation is the first step of nitrification carried out by ammonia-oxidizing Archaea (AOA) and Bacteria (AOB). Lake Superior and Erie are part of the Great Lakes system differing in trophic status with Lake Superior being oligotrophic and Lake Erie meso- to eutrophic. Sediment samples were collected from both lakes and used to characterize abundance and diversity of AOA and AOB based on the ammonia monooxygenase (amoA) gene. Diversity was accessed by a pyro-sequencing approach and the obtained sequences were used to determine the phylogeny and alpha and beta diversity of the AOA and AOB populations. In Lake Erie copy numbers of bacterial amoA genes were in the same order of magnitude or even higher than the copy numbers of the archaeal amoA genes, while in Lake Superior up to 4 orders of magnitude more archaeal than bacterial amoA copies were detected. The AOB detected in the samples from Lake Erie belonged to AOB that are frequently detected in freshwater. Differences were detected between the phylogenetic affiliations of the AOA from the two lakes. Most sequences detected in Lake Erie clustered in the Nitrososphaera cluster (Thaumarchaeal soil group I.1b) where as most of the sequences in Lake Superior were found in the Nitrosopumilus cluster (Thaumarchaeal marine group I.1a) and the Nitrosotalea cluster. Pearson correlations and canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) showed that the differences in abundance and diversity of AOA are very likely related to the sampling location and thereby to the different trophic states of the lakes.


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