• Archaea;
  • Methanogens;
  • Thaumarchaeota ;
  • rice field soil;
  • T-RFLP;
  • qPCR


Archaea in rice fields play an important role in carbon and nitrogen cycling. They comprise methane-producing Euryarchaeota as well as ammonia-oxidizing Thaumarchaeota, but their community structures and population dynamics have not yet been studied in the same system. Different soil compartments (surface, bulk, rhizospheric soil) and ages of roots (young and old roots) at two N fertilization levels and at three time points (the panicle initiation, heading and maturity periods) of the season were assayed by determining the abundance (using qPCR) and composition (using T-RFLP and cloning/sequencing) of archaeal genes (mcrA, amoA, 16S rRNA gene). The community of total Archaea in soil and root samples mainly consisted of the methanogens and the Thaumarchaeota and their abundance increased over the season. Methanogens proliferated everywhere, but Thaumarchaeota proliferated only on the roots and in response to nitrogen fertilization. The community structures of Archaea, methanogens and Thaumarchaeota were different in soil and root samples indicating niche differentiation. While Methanobacteriales were generally present, Methanosarcinaceae and Methanocellales were the dominant methanogens in soil and root samples, respectively. The results emphasize the specific colonization of roots by two ecophysiologically different groups of archaea which may belong to the core root biome.