Diversity and abundance of ammonia-oxidizing archaea and bacteria in polluted mangrove sediment

Huiluo Cao, Meng Li, Yiguo Hong, Ji Dong Gu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Ammonia oxidation by microorganisms is a critical process in the nitrogen cycle. Recent research results show that ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) are both abundant and diverse in a range of ecosystems. In this study, we examined the abundance and diversity of AOA and ammonia-oxidizing beta-proteobacteria (AOB) in estuarine sediments in Hong Kong for two seasons using the ammonia monooxygenase A subunit gene (amoA) as molecular biomarker. Relationships between diversity and abundance of AOA and AOB and physicochemical parameters were also explored. AOB were more diverse but less abundant than AOA. A few phylogenetically distinct amoA gene clusters were evident for both AOA and AOB from the mangrove sediment. Pearson moment correlation analysis and canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) were used to explore physicochemical parameters potentially important to AOA and AOB. Metal concentrations were proposed to contribute potentially to the distributions of AOA while total phosphorus (TP) was correlated to the distributions of AOB. Quantitative PCR estimates indicated that AOA were more abundant than AOB in all samples, but the ratio of AOA/AOB (from 1.8 to 6.3) was smaller than most other studies by one to two orders. The abundance of AOA or AOB was correlated with pH and temperature while the AOA/AOB ratio was with the concentrations of ammonium. Several physicochemical factors, rather than any single one, affect the distribution patterns suggesting that a combination of factors is involved in shaping the dynamics of AOA and AOB in the mangrove ecosystem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-523
Number of pages11
JournalSystematic and Applied Microbiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Ammonia-oxidizing archaea
  • Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria
  • AmoA
  • Mangrove sediment
  • Q-PCR


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