Autotrophic ammonia oxidation at low pH through urea hydrolysis

S. A. Burton, James Ivor Prosser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

121 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ammonia oxidation in laboratory liquid batch cultures of autotrophic ammonia oxidizers rarefy occurs at pH values less than 7, due to ionization of ammonia and the requirement for ammonium transport rather than diffusion of ammonia. Nevertheless, there is strong evidence for autotrophic nitrification in acid soils, which may be carried out by ammonia oxidizers capable of using urea as a source of ammonia. To determine the mechanism of urea-linked ammonia oxidation, a ureolytic autotrophic ammonia oxidizer, Nitrosospira sp, strain NPAV, was grown in liquid batch culture at a range of pH values with either ammonium or urea as the sole nitrogen source. Growth and nitrite production from ammonium did not occur at pH values below 7, Growth on urea occurred at pH values in the range 4 to 7.5 but ceased when urea hydrolysis was complete, even though ammonia, released during urea hydrolysis, remained in the medium. The results support a mechanism whereby urea enters the cells by diffusion and intracellular urea hydrolysis and ammonia oxidation occur independently of extracellular pH in the range 4 to 7.5, A proportion of the ammonia produced during this process diffuses from the cell and is not subsequently available for growth if the extracellular pH is less than 7, Ureolysis therefore provides a mechanism for nitrification in acid soils, but a proportion of the ammonium produced is likely to be released from the cell and may be used by other soil organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2952-2957
Number of pages5
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Volume67
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001

Keywords

  • ACID FOREST SOIL
  • NITRIFYING BACTERIA
  • OXIDIZING BACTERIA
  • HETEROTROPHIC NITRIFICATION
  • HEATH SOIL
  • POPULATIONS
  • NITROBACTER
  • INHIBITION
  • GROWTH
  • HUMUS

Cite this

Autotrophic ammonia oxidation at low pH through urea hydrolysis. / Burton, S. A.; Prosser, James Ivor.

In: Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Vol. 67, No. 7, 2001, p. 2952-2957.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Prosser, James Ivor

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N2 - Ammonia oxidation in laboratory liquid batch cultures of autotrophic ammonia oxidizers rarefy occurs at pH values less than 7, due to ionization of ammonia and the requirement for ammonium transport rather than diffusion of ammonia. Nevertheless, there is strong evidence for autotrophic nitrification in acid soils, which may be carried out by ammonia oxidizers capable of using urea as a source of ammonia. To determine the mechanism of urea-linked ammonia oxidation, a ureolytic autotrophic ammonia oxidizer, Nitrosospira sp, strain NPAV, was grown in liquid batch culture at a range of pH values with either ammonium or urea as the sole nitrogen source. Growth and nitrite production from ammonium did not occur at pH values below 7, Growth on urea occurred at pH values in the range 4 to 7.5 but ceased when urea hydrolysis was complete, even though ammonia, released during urea hydrolysis, remained in the medium. The results support a mechanism whereby urea enters the cells by diffusion and intracellular urea hydrolysis and ammonia oxidation occur independently of extracellular pH in the range 4 to 7.5, A proportion of the ammonia produced during this process diffuses from the cell and is not subsequently available for growth if the extracellular pH is less than 7, Ureolysis therefore provides a mechanism for nitrification in acid soils, but a proportion of the ammonium produced is likely to be released from the cell and may be used by other soil organisms.

AB - Ammonia oxidation in laboratory liquid batch cultures of autotrophic ammonia oxidizers rarefy occurs at pH values less than 7, due to ionization of ammonia and the requirement for ammonium transport rather than diffusion of ammonia. Nevertheless, there is strong evidence for autotrophic nitrification in acid soils, which may be carried out by ammonia oxidizers capable of using urea as a source of ammonia. To determine the mechanism of urea-linked ammonia oxidation, a ureolytic autotrophic ammonia oxidizer, Nitrosospira sp, strain NPAV, was grown in liquid batch culture at a range of pH values with either ammonium or urea as the sole nitrogen source. Growth and nitrite production from ammonium did not occur at pH values below 7, Growth on urea occurred at pH values in the range 4 to 7.5 but ceased when urea hydrolysis was complete, even though ammonia, released during urea hydrolysis, remained in the medium. The results support a mechanism whereby urea enters the cells by diffusion and intracellular urea hydrolysis and ammonia oxidation occur independently of extracellular pH in the range 4 to 7.5, A proportion of the ammonia produced during this process diffuses from the cell and is not subsequently available for growth if the extracellular pH is less than 7, Ureolysis therefore provides a mechanism for nitrification in acid soils, but a proportion of the ammonium produced is likely to be released from the cell and may be used by other soil organisms.

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KW - POPULATIONS

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