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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 40 No. 2, p. 610-619
    Received: Sept 7, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): thomas.ducey@ars.usda.gov
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Nitrification and Denitrification Gene Abundances in Swine Wastewater Anaerobic Lagoons

  1. Thomas F. Ducey *,
  2. Anthony D. Shriner and
  3. Patrick G. Hunt
  1. USDA–ARS, Coastal Plains Soil, Water and Plant Research Center, 2611 W. Lucas St., Florence, SC 29501. Assigned to Associate Editor Garey Fox.


Although anaerobic lagoons are used globally for livestock waste treatment, their detailed microbial cycling of N is only beginning to become understood. Within this cycling, nitrification can be performed by organisms that produce the enzyme ammonia monooxygenase. For denitrification, the reduction of nitrite to nitric oxide can be catalyzed by two forms of nitrite reductases, and N2O can be reduced by nitrous oxide reductase encoded by the gene nosZ. The objectives of this investigation were to (i) quantify the abundance of the amoA, nirK, nirS, and nosZ genes; (ii) evaluate the influence of environmental conditions on their abundances; and (iii) evaluate their abundance relative to denitrification enzyme activity (DEA). Samples were analyzed via real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction and collected from eight typical, commercial anaerobic, swine wastewater lagoons located in the Carolinas. The four genes assayed in this study were present in all eight lagoons. Their abundances relative to total bacterial populations were 0.04% (amoA), 1.33% (nirS), 5.29% (nirK), and 0.27% (nosZ). When compared with lagoon chemical characteristics, amoA and nirK correlated with several measured variables. Neither nirS nor nosZ correlated with any measured environmental variables. Although no gene measured in this study correlated with actual or potential DEA, nosZ copy numbers did correlate with the disparity between actual and potential DEA. Phylogenetic analysis of nosZ did not reveal any correlations to DEA rates. As with other investigations, analyses of these genes provide useful insight while revealing the underlying greater complexity of N cycling within swine waste lagoons.

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