Spatial Differences in Denitrification and Bacterial Community Structure of Streams: Relationships with Environmental Conditions04/01/2013
In streams, benthic bacterial communities are integral to multiple aspects of ecosystem function, including carbon and nitrogen cycles. Variation both in terms of bacterial community structure (based on taxonomic and/or functional genes) and function can reveal potential drivers of spatiotemporal patterns in stream processes. In this study, the abundance and diversity of 16S rRNA genes and abundance of nosZ genes, encoding for nitrous oxide reductase, were related to denitrification and environmental conditions. Denitrification rates varied among the three streams examined, and within a given stream there were significant longitudinal differences. Likewise, bacterial community structure based on analysis of the 16S rRNA gene also differed significantly among streams. However, variation in denitrification rate was not well correlated with environmental or biological variables measured. In addition, relatively large numbers of denitrifiers occurred when denitrification rates were low. In conclusion, although the streams differed in environmental conditions as well as bacterial community structure, these differences did not explain much of the spatial variation in denitrification rates.