Activity of the ammonia oxidising bacteria is responsible for zinc tolerance development of the ammonia oxidising community in soil: a stable isotope probing study

Stefan Ruyters*, Graeme W. Nicol, Jim I. Prosser, Bart Lievens, Erik Smolders

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Both bacterial and archaeal ammonia oxidizers (AOB and AOA) are abundant in most soils, but their relative contributions to soil nitrification under different conditions are still debated. This study investigates the influence of long-term zinc (Zn) stress on the ammonia oxidizer community and determines the role of AOB and AOA in Zn tolerant nitrification. This was assessed by artificially spiking a grassland soil with 1300 and 2400 mg Zn kg(-1) (final concentration). Both treatments increased Zn tolerance after incubation for 12 months and increased the AOB/AOA amoA gene abundance ratio from 0.1 to 30. Soil samples were subsequently subjected to stable isotope probing (SIP) of DNA by incubation under (CO2)-C-13 atmosphere. 13CO2 was assimilated by AOB in the uncontaminated soil. In contrast, this assimilation was not observed for the AOA. Similarly, AOB and not AOA assimilated (CO2)-C-13 after Zn exposure for 12 months. These results show that recovery of nitrification and development of Zn tolerance after long-term Zn exposure in this soil is due to the initial activity of AOB, rather than AOA. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-247
Number of pages4
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Early online date20 Dec 2012
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • archaea
  • RNA
  • zinc tolerance
  • stable isotope probing
  • diversity
  • microbial ecology
  • oxidation
  • zinc pollution
  • ammonia oxidising community

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