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Nitrogen-Cycling Genes in Epilithic Biofilms of Oligotrophic High-Altitude Lakes (Central Pyrenees, Spain)

AutorVila-Costa, Maria ; Bartrons, Mireia ; Catalán, Jordi; Casamayor, Emilio O.
Fecha de publicación2014
CitaciónMicrobial Ecology : DOI 10.1007/s00248-014-0417-2 (2014)
ResumenMicrobial biofilms in oligotrophic environments are the most reactive component of the ecosystem. In highaltitude lakes, exposed bedrock, boulders, gravel, and sand in contact with highly oxygenated water and where a very thin epilithic biofilm develops usually dominate the littoral zone. Traditionally, these surfaces have been considered unsuitable for denitrification, but recent investigations have shown higher biological diversity than expected, including diverse anaerobic microorganisms. In this study, we explored the presence of microbial N-cycling nirS and nirK (denitrification through the conversion of NO2 − to NO), nifH (N2 fixation), anammox (anaerobic ammonium oxidation), and amoA (aerobic ammonia oxidation, both bacterial and archaeal) genes in epilithic biofilms of a set of high-altitude oligotrophic lakes in the Pyrenees. The concentrations of denitrifying genes determined by quantitative PCR were two orders of magnitude higher than those of ammonia-oxidizing genes. Both types of genes were significantly correlated, suggesting a potential tight coupling nitrification-denitrification in these biofilms that deserves further confirmation. The nifH gene was detected after nested PCR, and no signal was detected for the anammoxspecific genes used. The taxonomic composition of denitrifying and nitrogen-fixing genes was further explored by cloning and sequencing. Interestingly, both microbial functional groups were richer and more genetically diverse than expected. The nirK gene, mostly related to Alphaproteobacteria (Bradyrhizobiaceae), dominated the denitrifying gene pool as expected for oxygen-exposed habitats, whereas Deltaproteobacteria (Geobacter like) and Cyanobacteria were the most abundant among nitrogen fixers. Overall, these results suggest an epilithic community more metabolically diverse than previously thought and with the potential to carry out an active role in the biogeochemical nitrogen cycling of highaltitude ecosystems. Measurements of activity rates should be however carried out to substantiate and further explore these findings.
Descripción10 páginas, 3 figuras, 3 tablas.
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00248-014-0417-2
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