In addition to the benthic and pelagic habitats, the epiphytic compartment of submerged macrophytes in shallow freshwater lakes offers a niche to bacterial ammonia-oxidizing communities. However, the diversity, numbers, and activity of epiphytic ammonia-oxidizing bacteria have long been overlooked. In the present study, we analyzed quantitatively the epiphytic communities of three shallow lakes by a potential nitrification assay and by quantitative PCR of 16S rRNA genes. On the basis of the m2 of the lake surface, the gene copy numbers of epiphytic ammonia oxidizers were not significantly different from those in the benthic and pelagic compartments. The potential ammonia-oxidizing activities measured in the epiphytic compartment were also not significantly different from the activities determined in the benthic compartment. No potential ammonia-oxidizing activities were observed in the pelagic compartment. No activity was detected in the epiphyton of Chara aspera, the dominant submerged macrophyte in Lake Nuldernauw in The Netherlands. The presence of ammonia-oxidizing bacterial cells in the epiphyton of Potamogeton pectinatus was also demonstrated by fluorescent in situ hybridization microscopy images. By comparing the community composition as assessed by the 16S rRNA gene PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis approach, it was concluded that the epiphytic ammonia-oxidizing communities consisted of cells that were also present in the benthic and pelagic compartments. Of the environmental parameters examined, only the water retention time, the Kjeldahl nitrogen content, and the total phosphorus content correlated with potential ammonia-oxidizing activities. None of these parameters correlated with the numbers of gene copies related to ammonia-oxidizing betaproteobacteria
Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Journal publication date2010

ID: 182758