Identification of active denitrifiers by DNA-Stable Isotope Probing and amplicon sequencing reveals Betaproteobacteria as responsible for attenuation of nitrate contamination in a low impacted aquifer

M. Inés Bellini (Lead Author), Deepak Kumaresan, Silvana Tarlera, J. Colin Murrell, Ana Fernández Scavino

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Groundwater reservoirs constitute important freshwater resources. However, these ecosystems are highly vulnerable to contamination and have to rely on the resident microbiota to attenuate the impact of this contamination. Nitrate is one of the main contaminants found in groundwater and denitrification is the main process that removes the compound. In this study, the response to nutrient load on indigenous microbial communities in groundwater from a low impacted aquifer in Uruguay was evaluated. Denitrification rates were measured in groundwater samples from three different sites with nitrate, acetate and pyrite amendments. Results showed that denitrification is feasible under in situ nitrate and electron donor concentrations, although the lack of readily available organic energy source would limit the attenuation of higher nitrate concentrations. DNA Stable-isotope probing (SIP), combined with amplicon sequencing of 16S rRNA, nirS and nirK genes, was used to identify the active denitrifiers. Members of the phylum Betaproteobacteria were the dominant denitrifiers in two of three sites, with different families being observed; members of the genus Vogesella (Neisseriaceae) were key denitrifiers at one site, while the genera Dechloromonas (Rhodocyclaceae) or Comamonas (Comamonadaceae) were the main denitrifiers detected at the other sites.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfix181
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number2
Early online date18 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • denitrification
  • groundwater
  • stable isotope probing
  • nirS
  • nirK
  • Betaproteobacteria

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