Anaerobic ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and related activity in Baltimore Inner Harbor sediment

Y. Tal, Joy Watts, H. Schreier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The discovery of bacteria capable of anaerobic ammonia oxidation (anammox) has generated interest in understanding the activity, diversity, and distribution of these bacteria in the environment. In this study anammox activity in sediment samples obtained from the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, Md., was detected by 15N tracer assays. Anammox-specific oligonucleotide primer sets were used to screen a Planctomycetales-specific 16S rRNA gene library generated from sediment DNA preparations, and four new anammox bacterial sequences were identified. Three of these sequences form a cohesive new branch of the anammox group, and the fourth sequence branches separately from this group. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis analysis of sediment incubated with anammox-specific media confirmed the presence of the four anammox-related 16S rRNA gene sequences. Evidence for the presence of anammox bacteria in Inner Harbor sediment was also obtained by using an anammox-specific probe in fluorescence in situ hybridization studies. To our knowledge, this is the first report of anammox activity and related bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequences from the Chesapeake Bay basin area, and the results suggest that this pathway plays an important role in the nitrogen cycle of this estuarine environment. Furthermore, the presence of these bacteria and their activity in sediment strengthen the contention that anammox-related Plactomycetales are globally distributed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1816-1821
Number of pages6
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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