Phylogeny of nitrite reductase (nirK) and nitric oxide reductase (norB) genes from Nitrosospira species isolated from soil


  • Editor: Jeff Cole

Correspondence: James I. Prosser, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Cruickshank Building, St Machar Drive, Aberdeen AB24 3UU, UK. Tel.: +44 1224 273254; fax: +44 1224 272703; e-mail:


Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria are believed to be an important source of the climatically important trace gas nitrous oxide (N2O). The genes for nitrite reductase (nirK) and nitric oxide reductase (norB), putatively responsible for nitrous oxide production, have been identified in several ammonia-oxidizing bacteria, but not in Nitrosospira strains that may dominate ammonia-oxidizing communities in soil. In this study, sequences from nirK and norB genes were detected in several cultured Nitrosospira species and the diversity and phylogeny of these genes were compared with those in other ammoniaoxidizing bacteria and in classical denitrifiers. The nirK and norB gene sequences obtained from Nitrosospira spp. were diverse and appeared to be less conserved than 16S rRNA genes and functional ammonia monooxygenase (amoA) genes. The nirK and norB genes from some Nitrosospira spp. were not phylogenetically distinct from those of denitrifiers, and phylogenetic analysis suggests that the nirK and norB genes in ammonia-oxidizing bacteria have been subject to lateral transfer.