Ammonia-oxidizing archaea respond positively to inorganic nitrogen addition in desert soils

Yevgeniy Marusenko, Ferran Garcia-Pichel, Sharon Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In soils, nitrogen (N) addition typically enhances ammonia oxidation (AO) rates and increases the population density of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), but not that of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA). We asked if long-term inorganic N addition also has similar consequences in arid land soils, an understudied yet spatially ubiquitous ecosystem type. Using Sonoran Desert top soils from between and under shrubs within a long-term N-enrichment experiment, we determined community concentration-response kinetics of AO and measured the total and relative abundance of AOA and AOB based on amoA gene abundance. As expected, N addition increased maximum AO rates and the abundance of bacterial amoA genes compared to the controls. Surprisingly, N addition also increased the abundance of archaeal amoA genes. We did not detect any major effects of N addition on ammonia-oxidizing community composition. The ammonia-oxidizing communities in these desert soils were dominated by AOA as expected (78% of amoA gene copies were related to Nitrososphaera), but contained unusually high contributions of Nitrosomonas (18%) and unusually low numbers of Nitrosospira (2%). This study highlights unique traits of ammonia oxidizers in arid lands, which should be considered globally in predictions of AO responses to changes in N availability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberiu023
JournalFEMS microbiology ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015


  • Ammonia oxidation
  • AmoA
  • Arid land
  • Niche differentiation
  • Nitrogen enrichment
  • Thaumarchaeota

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


Dive into the research topics of 'Ammonia-oxidizing archaea respond positively to inorganic nitrogen addition in desert soils'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this