Paul C. Burrell, Carol M. Phalen, and Timothy A. Hovanec.
Abstract: Culture enrichments and culture-independent molecular methods were employed to identify and confirm the presence of novel ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in nitrifying freshwater aquaria. Reactors were seeded with biomass from freshwater nitrifying systems and enriched for AOB under various conditions of ammonia concentration. Surveys of cloned rRNA genes from the enrichments revealed four major strains of AOB which were phylogenetically related to theNitrosomonas marina cluster, the Nitrosospira cluster, or the Nitrosomonas europaea-Nitrosococcus mobilis cluster of the subdivision of the class Proteobacteria. Ammonia concentration in the reactors determined which AOB strain dominated in an enrichment. Oligonucleotide probes and PCR primer sets specific for the four AOB strains were developed and used to confirm the presence of the AOB strains in the enrichments. Enrichments of the AOB strains were added to newly established aquaria to determine their ability to accelerate the establishment of ammonia oxidation. Enrichments containing the Nitrosomonas marina-like AOB strain were most efficient at accelerating ammonia oxidation in newly established aquaria. Furthermore, if theNitrosomonas marina-like AOB strain was present in the original enrichment, even one with other AOB, only the Nitrosomonas marina-like AOB strain was present in aquaria after nitrification was established. Nitrosomonas marina-like AOB were 2% or less of the cells detected by fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis in aquaria in which nitrification was well established.