Do genetic diversity patterns of soil ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms (AOM) match the habitat types of the NATURA2000 scheme?
Despite the important role of soil ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms (AOM) in the biogeochemical cycle of nitrogen, a unified view of the factors driving their spatial pattern of abundance and genetic diversity in terrestrial ecosystems is still lacking. The objective of this study was to explore whether abundance and genetic diversity of AOM follow the existing diversity of habitat types of the NATURA2000.
Materials and methods
We evaluated the relative abundance of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and archaea (AOA), as well as their genetic diversity in pastoral landscapes of an eastern Mediterranean island. Focusing on six different NATURA2000 habitat types of Crete, the study of AOM was based on culture-independent techniques, while vegetation and soil data of each habitat type were also collected and incorporated in the analysis.
Results and discussion
Our results suggest that the relative abundances of soil AOB and AOA in the pastoral landscapes of Crete are related to a limited number of soil factors, while their genetic diversity patterns are mainly explained by the dominant woody plant families, and partially by the soil parameters, but do not match the habitat types of the NATURA2000 scheme.
The variation of genetic diversity of soil AOM is not predicted from the habitat types of the NATURA2000 scheme. Thus, NATURA2000 habitat types cannot serve as a management scheme of soil AOM.
KeywordsAmmonia-oxidizing microorganisms Genetic diversity Functional groups Mediterranean ecosystems NATURA2000 Pastoral landscapes
This research has been co-financed by the European Union (European Social Fund—ESF) and Greek national funds through the Operational Program “Education and Lifelong Learning” of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF)—Research Funding Program: Heracleitus II. Investing in knowledge society through the European Social Fund.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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