Vertical flow constructed wetlands (VFCWs) with intermittent loading are very suitable for nitrification. Ammonia oxidising bacteria (AOB) are the limiting step of nitration. Therefore the AOB community of a full-scale VFCW, receiving municipal wastewater, was investigated within this study. The diversity of the functional gene encoding the α–subunit of the ammonia monooxygenase (amoA), present only in AOB, was assessed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). Only very few amoA sequence types dominated the wetland filter substrate; nevertheless a stable nitrification performance could be observed. During the cold season the nitrification was slightly reduced, but it has been shown that the same AOB could be identified. No spatial AOB pattern could be observed within the filter body of the VFCW. The most prominent bands were excised from DGGE gels and sequenced. Sequence analyses revealed two dominant AOB lineages: Nitrosomonas europaea/“Nitrosococcus mobilis” and Nitrosospira. Species of the Nitrosomonas lineage are commonly found in conventional wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). In contrast, members of the Nitrosospira lineage are rarely present in WWTPs. Our observations indicate that the AOB community in this VFCW is similar to that found in horizontal flow constructed wetlands, but differs from common WWTPs regarding the presence of Nitrosospira.

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