Effects of emergent aquatic plants on nitrogen transformation processes and related microorganisms in a constructed wetland in northern China

  • Jiaohui Fang
  • Ruiqi Zhao
  • Qingqing Cao
  • Quan Quan
  • Ruilian Sun
  • Jian LiuEmail author
Regular Article



Wetland plants affect ammonia-oxidation rate (AOR) and nitrogen-fixation rate (NFR), resulting in changes in plant-available nitrogen and wetland nitrogen-cycling. This study aims to investigate the underlying mechanisms and influencing factors associated with ammonium oxidation and nitrogen fixation in response to wetland-emergent aquatic plants.


A field experiment was conducted to study the response of activity, abundance, and community structure of ammonia-oxidizers and diazotrophs to three wetland-emergent aquatic plants in summer and autumn. The root exudates and soil physicochemical properties were determined due to their important role in rhizosphere interactions.


AOR and NFR were significantly higher in rhizosphere than in bulk soils. The increases of AOR and NFR in rhizosphere were significantly positively affected by oxidation-reduction potential, additionally, NFR was also significantly affected by sugar-containing root exudates. Furthermore, NFR strongly correlated with diazotroph abundance, whereas AOR was linearly correlated with ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) activity and mostly determined by a specific AOA taxon.


Emergent plant rhizosphere exhibited strong positive effects on AOR and NFR by altering community structure and abundance of related microorganisms. Release of available oxygen and carbon in plant rhizospheres is vital for promoting ammonium oxidation and nitrogen fixation and might further mediate wetlands nitrogen-cycling.


Ammonium oxidation Nitrogen fixation Aquatic plants Rhizosphere Root exudates 



analysis of variance


ammonia-oxidizing archaea


ammonia-oxidizing bacteria


ammonia-oxidation rate


Cyperus alternifolius


dry mas


dissolved organic carbon


high-performance liquid chromatography


nitrogen-fixation rate


oxidation-reduction potential


polymerase chain reaction


Phragmites australis


quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction


total nitrogen


total organic carbon


Typha angustifolia


Zhaoniu River Constructed Wetland



We thank Professor Yupeng Geng in Yunnan University and three anonymous referees for their valuable comments and suggestions on the manuscript. This study was supported by the “China Major Science and Technology Program for Water Pollution Control and Treatment” (No.2017ZX07101003), the “Natural Science Foundation of Shandong Province, China” (No. ZR2017MC013) and the “National Natural Science Foundation of China” (No. 41601333). We would like to thank Editage for English language editing.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Research InstituteShandong UniversityQingdaoChina
  2. 2.School of Architecture and Urban PlanningShandong Jianzhu UniversityJinanChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Eco-hydraulics in Northwest Arid Region of ChinaXi’an University of TechnologyXi’anChina

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