Spatial distribution and abundances of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in mangrove sediments

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


We investigated the diversity, spatial distribution, and abundances of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in sediment samples of different depths collected from a transect with different distances to mangrove forest in the territories of Hong Kong. Both the archaeal and bacterial amoA genes (encoding ammonia monooxygenase subunit A) from all samples supported distinct phylogenetic groups, indicating the presences of niche-specific AOA and AOB in mangrove sediments. The higher AOB abundances than AOA in mangrove sediments, especially in the vicinity of the mangrove trees, might indicate the more important role of AOB on nitrification. The spatial distribution showed that AOA had higher diversity and abundance in the surface layer sediments near the mangrove trees (0 and 10 m) but lower away from the mangrove trees (1,000 m), and communities of AOA could be clustered into surface and bottom sediment layer groups. In contrast, AOB showed a reverse distributed pattern, and its communities were grouped by the distances between sites and mangrove trees, indicating mangrove trees might have different influences on AOA and AOB community structures. Furthermore, the strong correlations among archaeal and bacterial amoA gene abundances and their ratio with NH 4 + , salinity, and pH of sediments indicated that these environmental factors have strong influences on AOA and AOB distributions in mangrove sediments. In addition, AOA diversity and abundances were significantly correlated with hzo gene abundances, which encodes the key enzyme for transformation of hydrazine into N2 in anaerobic ammonium-oxidizing (anammox) bacteria, indicating AOA and anammox bacteria may interact with each other or they are influenced by the same controlling factors, such as NH 4 + . The results provide a better understanding on using mangrove wetlands as biological treatment systems for removal of nutrients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1243-1254
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Abundance
  • Ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA)
  • Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB)
  • Anammox
  • Community structures
  • Diversity
  • Mangrove sediments
  • hzo gene


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