Ammonia oxidizing archaea (AOA) are microbes that are widely distributed in the ocean that convert ammonia to nitrite for energy acquisition in the presence of oxygen. Recent study has unraveled highly diverse sublineages within the previously defined AOA ecotypes (i.e., water column A (WCA) and water column B (WCB)), although the eco-physiology and environmental determinants of WCB subclades remain largely unclear. In this study, we examined the AOA communities along the water columns (40–3000 m depth) in the Costa Rica Dome (CRD) upwelling region in the eastern tropical North Pacific Ocean. Highly diverse AOA communities that were significantly different from those in oxygenated water layers were observed in the core layer of the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ), where the dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration was < 2μM. Moreover, a number of AOA phylotypes were found to be enriched in the OMZ core. Most of them were negatively correlated with DO and were also detected in other OMZs in the Arabian Sea and Gulf of California, which suggests low oxygen adaptation. This study provided the first insight into the differential niche partitioning and environmental determinants of various subclades within the ecotype WCB. Our results indicated that the ecotype WCB did indeed consist of various sublineages with different eco-physiologies, which should be further explored.
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