Variability in abundance of the Bacterial and Archaeal 16S rRNA and amoA genes in water columns of northern South China Sea

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Haodong Liu, Chunyan Yang, Songze Chen, Wei Xie, Peng Wang and Chuanlun L. Zhang, State Key Laboratory of Marine Geology, Tongji University, Shanghai, China
Recent advances in marine microbial ecology have shown that ammonia-oxidizing Archaea (AOA) are more abundant than ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), although total Bacteria are more abundant than total Archaea in marine environments. This study aimed to examine the spatial distribution and abundance of planktonic archaeal and bacterial 16S rRNA- and amoA genes in the northern South China Sea. Water samples were collected at different depths at six stations (maximum depth ranging from 1800 m to 3200 m)with four stations (B2, B3, B6, B7) located along a transect from the northeastern continental slope to the Bashi Strait and the other two (D3, D5) located southwest of this transect. Quantitative PCR of the 16S rRNA- and amoA genes was used to estimate the abundances of total Archaea, total Bacteria, and AOA and AOB, respectively. At the B series stations, the abundance of bacterial 16S rRNA gene was twofold to 36fold higher than that of the archaeal 16S rRNA gene while fivefold lower to sixfold higher at the two D stations, with both genes showing peak values slightly below sea surface (5-75 m depths) at all stations. The archaeal amoA gene had similar variations with the archaeal 16S rRNA gene, but was 1-4 orders of magnitude lower than the archaeal 16S rRNA gene at all stations. Bacterial amoA gene was below the detection at all stations. Our results also show the difference in depth profiles among these stations, which may be caused by the difference in water movement between these regions. The non-detection of bacterial amoA gene indicates that ammonia-oxidizing Archaea are the dominant group of microorganisms in nitrification of the South China Sea, which is consistent with observations in other oceans.