Gene abundances of AOA, AOB, and anammox controlled by groundwater chemistry of the Pearl River Delta, China

Kun Liu*, Xin Luo, Jiu Jimmy Jiao*, Ji dong Gu, Ramon Aravena

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA), ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), and anaerobic ammoniaoxidation (anammox) bacteria are very important contributors to nitrogen cycling in natural environments. Functional gene abundances of these microbes were believed to be well relevant to N-cycling in groundwater systems, especially in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) groundwater with unique high intrinsic ammonia concentrations. In this research, 20 sediment samples from two in the PRD were collected for porewater chemistry analysis and quantification of N-cycling related genes, including archaeal and bacterial amoA gene and anammox 16S ribosomal Ribonucleic Acid (rRNA) gene. Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) results showed that gene abundances of AOA, AOB, and anammox bacteria ranged from 3.13×105 to 3.21×107, 1.83×104 to 2.74×106, and 9.27×104 to 8.96×106 copies/g in the sediment of the groundwater system, respectively. Anammox bacteria and AOA dominated in aquitards and aquifers, respectively, meanwhile, the aquitard-aquifer interfaces were demonstrated as ammonium-oxidizing hotspots in the aspect of gene numbers. Gene abundances of nitrifiers were analyzed with geochemistry profiles. Correlations between gene numbers and environmental variables indicated that the gene abundances were impacted by hydrogeological conditions, and microbial-derived ammonium loss was dominated by AOA in the northwest PRD and by anammox bacteria in the southeast PRD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-475
Number of pages13
JournalChina Geology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Ammonium oxidation bacteria (AOB)
  • Ammonium oxidizing archaea (AOA)
  • Anammox
  • Aquitard
  • China
  • Groundwater
  • Hydrogeological survey engineering
  • Pearl River Delta


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