Nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB) are chemolithoautotrophs that catalyze the oxidation of nitrite to nitrate, which is the second step of aerobic nitrification. In marine ecosystems, Nitrospina is assumed to be a major contributor to nitrification. To date, two strains of Nitrospina have been isolated from marine environments. Despite their ecological relevance, their ecophysiology and environmental distribution are understudied owing to fastidious cultivation techniques and the lack of a sufficient functional gene marker. To estimate the abundance, diversity, and distribution of Nitrospina in various marine sediments, we used nxrA, which encodes the alpha subunit of nitrite oxidoreductase, as a functional and phylogenetic marker. We observed that Nitrospina diversity in polar sediments was significantly lower than that of non-polar samples. Moreover, nxrA-like sequences revealed an unexpected diversity of Nitrospina, with approximately 41,000 different sequences based on a 95% similarity cutoff from six marine sediments. We detected nxrA gene copy numbers of up to 3.57 × 104 per gram of marine sediment sample. The results of this study provide insight into the distribution and diversity of Nitrospina, which is fundamentally important for understanding their contribution to the nitrogen cycle in marine sediments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas