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Variation in heterotrophic and autotrophic nitrifier populations in relation to nitrification in organic soils



Variation in heterotrophic and autotrophic nitrifier populations in relation to nitrification in organic soils



Applied and Environmental Microbiology 40(1): 75-79



The occurrence of heterotrophic and autotrophic nitrifiers in Pahokee muck and the role of these organisms in the ecosystem were assessed by surveying their population densities under different field conditions and by observing the relationship of these populations with aerobic bacteria and soil moisture. Heterotrophic nitrifier populations varied from 2.0 x 10 to 3.8 x 10 bacteria per cm of muck in surface fallow (bare) Pahokee muck during the annual cycle. This population decreased 40-fold between the surface and the 60- to 70-cm depths of soil. Similar variations were noted with autotrophic nitrifier populations. Significant correlations were found between heterotrophic nitrifiers and both soil moisture and aerobic bacteria. These relationships did not exist for the autotrophic nitrifiers. In soil that had been heated to kill the autotrophic nitrifiers, while preserving a population of the heterotrophs, and then amended with sodium acetate or ammonium sulfate or both, no nitrate or nitrite accumulated, although significant increases in heterotrophic nitrifiers were detected. In unheated control soil, nitrate plus nitrite-N increased from 14.3 to 181 mug/g of wet soil, and 48 mug of nitrite-N per g was produced. These data suggest that the autotrophic nitrifiers were the sole population responsible for nitrification in Pahokee muck.

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Accession: 001030392

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PMID: 16345599


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