AME 78:121-133 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ame01806

Genetic diversity associated with N-cycle pathways in microbialites from Lake Alchichica, Mexico

Rocio J. Alcántara-Hernández1, Patricia M. Valdespino-Castillo2, Carla M. Centeno3, Javier Alcocer4, Martín Merino-Ibarra5, Luisa I. Falcón2,*

1Instituto de Geología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad de México 04510, Mexico
2Laboratorio de Ecología Bacteriana, Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Ciudad de México 04510, Mexico
3Departamento de Zoología, Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Biológicas, Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Ciudad de México 11340, Mexico
4Proyecto de Investigación en Limnología Tropical, Facultad de Estudios Superiores Iztacala, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Tlalnepantla, Estado de México 54090, Mexico
5Unidad Académica de Ecología Marina, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad de México 04510, Mexico
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Microbialites are an example of complex and diverse microbial assemblages where several metabolic pathways are interconnected for biomass formation coupled to mineral precipitation. Lake Alchichica (Mexico) is an oligotrophic environment where nitrogen (N) and phosphorus alternately limit productivity, and massive microbialite growths are found along the lake’s perimeter. Previous studies have described the importance of N2 fixation in these microbialites, although other pathways associated with the N cycle, including denitrification, nitrification and anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox), had not been evaluated. This study identified the genetic diversity associated with N cycling in both metagenomic DNA and RNA expression by targeting key genes for nitrogenase (nifH), ammonia monooxygenase (amoA), nitrite oxidoreductase (nxrA, nxrB), hydrazine oxidoreductase (hzo) and nitrite (nirS and nirK) and nitrous oxide (nosZ) reductases. While the genetic potential for N2 fixation, ammonia oxidation, anammox and denitrification was present in the microbialites of Lake Alchichica, the most transcribed pathway was N2 fixation.


KEY WORDS: Microbialites · N cycle · N2 fixation · Cyanobacteria · Heterocyst


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Cite this article as: Alcántara-Hernández RJ, Valdespino-Castillo PM, Centeno CM, Alcocer J, Merino-Ibarra M, Falcón LI (2017) Genetic diversity associated with N-cycle pathways in microbialites from Lake Alchichica, Mexico. Aquat Microb Ecol 78:121-133. https://doi.org/10.3354/ame01806

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