Department of Ecogenetics and Systems Biology - Division of Archaea Biology and Ecogenomics

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Ammonia Oxidizing Archaea

Research > Ongoing Projects > Ammonia Oxidizing Archaea

AOA: Metabolic and Genomic Studies of Ammonia Oxidizing Archaea from Soil

Nitrification is a process solely performed by microorganisms, that plays a central role in the global cycling of nitrogen and is of economic importance in agriculture and wastewater treatment. The first step in nitrification is performed by ammonia oxidising microorganisms that convert ammonia into nitrite ions. Thanks to their discovery by S. Winogradsky, nitrifying bacteria have been known for more than hundred years. Only recently, it has been recognized that microorganisms of the domain archaea are also able to perform this process. This group of archaea outnumber the known bacterial nitrifiers by orders of magnitude in the marine plankton, as well as in many soils, sediments and estuarines. Although present in very large numbers, very little is known about the physiology of ammonia oxidizing archaea. Their chemolithoautotrophic growth mode has so far been shown only for a single cultivated isolate from a marine aquarium and for two enrichments from hot environments. Therefore, the physiology of ammonia oxidizing archaea in particular of those from soil has remained elusive and their contribution to nitrification has been debated.
We have recently isolated a chemolithoautotrophic ammonia oxidizing archaeon from a garden soil in Vienna that is stably growing in laboratory cultures for three years now. The overall goal of this project is to get a deeper insight into the physiology, general activities, evolution and genomic potential of Candidatus Nitrososphaera viennensis and thus to develop it into a model organism for ammonia oxidizing archaea from soil. For this purpose we will perform detailed physiological characterisations, as well as genomic and functional genomic studies. The project will be performed in collaboration with the Department of Molecular Systems Biology (W. Weckwerth) and the Department of Chemical Ecology and Ecosystems Research (A. Richter).
In total we expect to get a deeper insight into this widely distributed and potentially ecologically significant group of archaea.

Duration: 01.11.2010 - 31.12.2013

Funding: Austrian Science Fund (FWF) P23000

Participants: Christa Schleper, Melina Kerou, Tobias Reinelt
Former Participants: Michaela Stieglmeier

Stieglmeier M, Alves R, Schleper C (2014) Thaumarchaeota. In: The Prokaryotes - Other Major Lineages of Bacteria and The Archaea. Rosenberg, E., DeLong E.F., Lory, S., Stackebrandt, E., Thompson F. (Eds.) 4th ed. 2014 Springer. In press.

Stieglmeier M, Mooshammer M, Kitzler B, Wanek W, Zechmeister-Boltenstern S, Richter A, Schleper C (2014) Aerobic nitrous oxide production through N-nitrosating hybrid formation in ammonia-oxidizing archaea. ISME Journal 8(5): 1135-1146. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2013.220.

Prommer J, Wanek W, Hofhansl F, Trojan D, Offre P, Urich T, Schleper C, Sassmann S, Kitzler B, Soja G, Hood-Nowotny R (2014) Biochar Decelerates Soil Organic Nitrogen Cycling but Stimulates Soil Nitrification in a Temperate Arable Field Trial. PLOS One 9(1): e86388. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086388.

Shen T, Stieglmeier M, Dai J, Urich T, Schleper C (2013) Responses of the terrestrial ammonia oxidizing archaeon Ca. Nitrososphaera viennensis and the ammonia oxidizing bacterium Nitrosospira multiformis to nitrification inhibitors. FEMS Microbiology Letters 344(2):121-129. doi: 10.1111/1574-6968.12164.

Eme L, Reigstad LJ, Spang A, Lanzén A, Weinmaier T, Rattei T, Schleper C, Brochier-Armanet C (2013) Metagenomics of Kamchatkan hot spring filaments reveal two new major(hyper)thermophilic lineages related to Thaumarchaeota. Research in Microbiology 164: 425-438. doi:pii: S0923-2508(13)00027-2. 10.1016/j.resmic.2013.02.006.

Alves RJ, Wanek W, Zappe A, Richter A, Svenning MM, Schleper C, Urich T (2013) Nitrification rates in Arctic soils are associated with functionally distinct populations of ammonia-oxidizing archaea. ISME Journal 7(8): 1620-1631. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2013.35.

Vissers EW, Anselmetti FS, Bodelier PL, Muyzer G, Schleper C, Tourna M, Laanbroek HJ (2013) Temporal and Spatial Coexistence of Archaeal and Bacterial amoA Genes and Gene Transcripts in Lake Lucerne. Archaea - An International Microbiological Journal 2013: 289478; doi: 10.1155/2013/289478.

Spang A, Poehlein A, Offre P, Zumbrägel S, Haider S, Rychlik N, Nowka B, Schmeisser C, Lebedeva EV, Rattei T, Böhm C, Schmid M, Galushko A, Hatzenpichler R, Weinmaier T, Daniel R, Schleper C, Spieck E, Streit W, Wagner M (2012) The genome of the ammonia-oxidizing Candidatus Nitrosopshaera gargensis: Insights into metabolic versatility and environmental adaptations. Environmental Microbiology 14(12): 3122-3145. DOI: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2012.02893.x.

Sinninghe Damsté JS, Rijpstra WI, Hopmans EC, Jung MY, Kim JG, Rhee SK, Stieglmeier M, Schleper C (2012) Intact polar and core glycerol dibiphytanyl glycerol tetraether lipids of group I.1a and I.1b thaumarchaeota in soil. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 78(19): 6866-6874.

Bartossek R, Spang A, Weidler G, Lanzen A, Schleper C (2012) Metagenomic analysis of ammonia-oxidizing archaea affiliated with the soil group. Frontiers in Microbiology 3: 208. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2012.00208.

Reeve JN, Schleper C (2011) Archaea: very diverse, often different but never bad?Current Opinion in Microbiology 14(3): 271-273.

Pester M, Schleper C, Wagner M (2011) The Thaumarchaeota: an emerging view of their phylogeny and ecophysiology. Current Opinion in Microbiology 14(3): 300-306.

Tourna M, Stieglmeier M, Spang A, Könneke M, Schintlmeister A, Urich T, Engel M, Schloter M, Wagner M, Richter A, Schleper C (2011) Nitrososphaera viennensis, an ammonia oxidizing archaeon from soil. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108(20): 8420-8425.

Krupovic M, Spang A, Gribaldo S, Forterre P, Schleper C (2011) A thaumarchaeal provirus testifies for an ancient association of tailed viruses with archaea. Biochemical Society Transactions 39(1): 82-88.

Schleper C (2010) Ammonia oxidation: different niches for bacteria and archaea? ISME Journal 4(9): 1092-1094.

Schleper C, Nicol GW (2010) Ammonia-oxidising archaea-physiology, ecology and evolution. Advances in Microbial Physiology 57: 1-47.

Spang A, Hatzenpichler R, Brochier-Armanet C, Rattei T, Tischler P, Spieck E, Streit W, Stahl DA, Wagner M, Schleper C (2010) Distinct gene set in two different lineages of ammonia-oxidizing archaea supports the phylum Thaumarchaeota. Trends in Microbiology 18(8): 331-340.

Bartossek R, Nicol GW, Lanzen A, Klenk HP, Schleper C (2010) Homologues of nitrite reductases in ammonia-oxidizing archaea: diversity and genomic context. Environ Microbiology 12(4): 1075-1088.

Schauss K, Focks A, Leininger S, Kotzerke A, Heuer H, Thiele-Bruhn S, Sharma S, Wilke BM, Matthies M, Smalla K, Munch JC, Amelung W, Kaupenjohann M, Schloter M, Schleper C (2009) Dynamics and functional relevance of ammonia-oxidizing archaea in two agricultural soils. Environmental Microbiology 11(2): 446-456.

Schleper C (2008) Microbial ecology: Metabolism of the deep. Nature 456(7223): 712-714.

Nicol GW, Leininger S, Schleper C, Prosser JI (2008) The influence of soil pH on the diversity, abundance and transcriptional activity of ammonia oxidizing archaea and bacteria. Environmental Microbiology 10(11): 2966-2978.

Reigstad LJ, Richter A, Daims H, Urich T, Schwark L, Schleper C (2008) Nitrification in terrestrial hot springs of Iceland and Kamchatka. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 64(2): 167-174.

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