Temporal and spatial dynamics within an ammonia-oxidising community from intertidal, freshwater sediments were studied in microcosms simulating flooding twice a day with fresh, brackish and marine waters. The microcosms had been filled with the upper 5 cm of intertidal freshwater sediment from the river Scheldt. Changes in community composition were examined by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of amplified DNA from the community. In the first week of incubation the initially present members of the Nitrosomonas oligotropha lineage were replaced by other members of the same lineage in the top layer of the sediment subjected to flooding with freshwater. Prolonged incubation extended niche differentiation to a depth of 5 cm. In the microcosms flooded with saline media, the initially present members of the N. oligotropha lineage were replaced by strains belonging to the Nitrosomonas marina lineage, but only in the top 1 cm. Shift in community composition occurred earlier in the marine microcosm than in the brackish microcosms and was slower than the change in the freshwater microcosms. Irrespective of the nature of the flooding medium, shifts in community composition were always consistent among replicate microcosms. We conclude that salinity is an important steering factor in niche differentiation among ammonia-oxidising bacteria and also that changes within the community of this functional group of bacteria may occur at different rates. [KEYWORDS: Ammonia-oxidising bacteria ; Freshwater sediment ; Salt stress ; Microcosms ; Niche differentiation ; Spatial and temporal community change]
Original languageEnglish
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Journal publication date2005

ID: 399588