Constructed wetlands can be used to decrease the high ammonium concentrations in landfill leachates. We investigated nitrification/denitrification activity and the corresponding bacterial communities in landfill leachate that was treated in a compact constructed wetland, Tveta Recycling Facility, Sweden. Samples were collected at three depths in a filter bed and the sediment from a connected open pond in July, September and November 2004. Potential ammonia oxidation was measured by short-term incubation method and potential denitrification by the acetylene inhibition technique. The ammonia-oxidising and the denitrifying bacterial communities were investigated using group-specific PCR primers targeting 16S rRNA genes and the functional gene nosZ, respectively. PCR products were analysed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and nucleotide sequencing. The same degree of nitrification activity was observed in the pond sediment and at all levels in the filter bed, whereas the denitrification activity decreased with filter bed depth. Denitrification rates were higher in the open pond, even though the denitrifying bacterial community was more diverse in the filter bed. The ammonia-oxidising community was also more varied in the filter bed. In the filter bed and the open pond, there was no obvious relationship between the nitrification/denitrification activities and the composition of the corresponding bacterial communities.

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