Environmental controls on denitrifying communities and denitrification rates: insights from molecular methods.
The advent of molecular techniques has improved our understanding of the microbial communities responsible for denitrification and is beginning to address their role in controlling denitrification processes. There is a large diversity of bacteria, archaea, and fungi capable of denitrification, and their community composition is structured by long-term environmental drivers. The range of temperature and moisture conditions, substrate availability, competition, and disturbances have long-lasting legacies on denitrifier community structure. These communities may differ in physiology, environmental tolerances to pH and O2, growth rate, and enzyme kinetics. Although factors such as O2, pH, C availability, and NO3- pools affect instantaneous rates, these drivers act through the biotic community. This review summarizes the results of molecular investigations of denitrifier communities in natural environments and provides a framework for developing future research for addressing connections between denitrifier community structure and function.