Characterization of nitrifying bacteria communities of soils from different ecological regions of China by molecular and conventional methods
Soil nitrification rate is very different among soil types, as a result of differences in physical and chemical properties. Little is known about the composition of the nitrifying bacteria community. In this investigation, three soils (fluvo-aquic soil, permeable paddy soil and red earth) from different geo-ecological regions in China were characterized for their nitrification activities and their nitrifying bacteria communities determined either by molecular approaches or by conventional culture methods. A 28-day long-term soil incubation showed that the maximum nitrification potential was found in the fluvo-aquic soil with almost 100% of inorganic N present as NO3–-N, while the minimum nitrification potential was in red earth with only a 4.9% conversion rate from ammonium into nitrate. There was no relationship between nitrification potential and numbers of nitrifiers in the soil. The conventional most probable number (MPN) method could enumerate ammonia oxidizers, but failed in enumerating nitrite oxidizers. Therefore, we used an MPN-PCR procedure which gave a convincing nitrite oxidizer count result, instead of MPN-diphylamine. Soils were characterized by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of DNA extracted from soils and amplified using a primer specific for the 16S rRNA gene and/or for the amoA gene. The DGGE columns of the three soils differed from each other. There were two similar bands present in DGGE columns of the fluvo-aquic and permeable paddy soils, but no similar band was found in DGGE columns of the red earth. The sequence of amoA indicated that all ammonia oxidizers in these soils were grouped into Nitrosospira clusters 1 and 3, and each soil had a common band similar to the other soils and a special band which differed from the other soils.