Hovanec, T. A., L. T. Taylor, A. Blakis and E. F. DeLong. 1998.
Abstract: Oxidation of nitrite to nitrate in aquaria is typically attributed to bacteria belonging to the genus Nitrobacter which are members of the alpha subdivision of theProteobacteria. In order to identify bacteria responsible for nitrite-oxidation in aquaria, clone libraries of rRNA genes were developed from biofilms of several freshwater aquaria. Analysis of the rDNA libraries, along with results from denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) on frequently sampled biofilms, indicated the presence of a putative nitrite-oxidizing bacteria closely related to the genus Nitrospira. Nucleic acid hybridization experiments with rRNA from biofilms of freshwater aquaria demonstrated that Nitrospira-like rRNA comprised nearly 5% of the rRNA extracted from the biofilms during the establishment of nitrification. Nitrite-oxidizing bacteria belonging to the alpha Proteobacteria subdivision (e. g.,Nitrobacter spp.) were not detected in same samples. Aquaria which received a commercial preparation containing Nitrobacter species did not show evidence of Nitrobacter growth and development but did develop substantial populations of Nitrospira-like species. Time series analysis of rDNA phylotypes on aquaria biofilms by DGGE, combined with nitrite and nitrate analysis, showed a correspondence between the appearance ofNitrospira-like bacterial ribosomal DNA, and the initiation of nitrite oxidation. In total, the data suggest that Nitrobacter winogradskyi and close relatives were not the dominant nitrite-oxidizing bacteria in freshwater aquaria. Instead, nitrite oxidation in freshwater aquaria appeared to be mediated by bacteria closely related toNitrospira moscoviensis and Nitrospira marina.