NitrosospiraDid we forget anything? Let us know

Genus nameNitrosospira
Alternative namesNitrosolobus; Nitrosovibrio
NCBI taxonomy ID35798

Taxonomy (MiDAS 2.0)


16S gene copy number1

 In situOther
Hydrophobic cell surface

Confocal microscopic FISH image. Simultaneous in situ hybridization with CY5-labeled probe NSV443 and CY3-labeled probe NSR1156. Cells of Nitrosospira spp. are shown in blue; cells of Nitrospira-like bacteria are red. - Source:7

Nitrite reduction

POSNEGVariableNot assessed


Cells are tightly coiled spirals, 0.3–0.4 µm in width, with 3–20 turns 16. Aerobic, lithoautotrophic, ammonia oxidizers. Play only a minor role in treatment plants 3 2. Can grow mixotrophically, but not heterotrophically 8 9. Urea and potentially hydrogen may serve as alternate electron donors 8 5.

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Distribution plant/process configuration

The Nitrosospira are considered K-strategists, with a high substrate affinity and low growth rate 1. They are better suited to a lower concentration of ammonia than is found in treatment plants where they are likely outcompeted by the Nitrosomonas 2. The are sometimes detected in nitrifying bioreactors 10.

FISH probes

Nso1225 (inc. Nitrosomonas) 3


 In situOther
Aerobic Heterotroph81112
Nitrite Reduction5613
Sulfate Reduction
Short-chain Fatty Acids
Proteins/Amino Acids

Abundance Information

 10 % percentileMedian90 % percentile
Activated Sludge000

Predominant In-


[1] Schramm, de Beer, van den Heuvel, Ottengraf, Amann (1999): Microscale distribution of populations and activities of Nitrosospira and Nitrospira spp. along a macroscale gradient in a nitrifying bioreactor: quantification by in situ hybridization and the use of microsensors. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 65 (8): 3690-6.

[2] Daims H. And Wagner M. (2010) The microbiology of nitrogen removal In: Microbial Ecology of Activated Sludge. Seviour R.J. & Nielsen P.H. (eds.). IWA Publishing. London, UK. - Daims And Wagner 2010 -

[3] Mobarry, Wagner, Urbain, Rittmann, Stahl (1996): Phylogenetic probes for analyzing abundance and spatial organization of nitrifying bacteria. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 62 (6): 2156-62.

[4] - NCBI genome database, NCBI id 35798 -

[5] Norton, Klotz, Stein, Arp, Bottomley, Chain, et al. (2008): Complete genome sequence of Nitrosospira multiformis, an ammonia-oxidizing bacterium from the soil environment. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 74 (11): 3559-72. doi:10.1128/AEM.02722-07

[6] Garcia, Urakawa, Le, Stein, Klotz, Nielsen, et al. (2013): Draft Genome Sequence of Nitrosospira sp. Strain APG3, a Psychrotolerant Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacterium Isolated from Sandy Lake Sediment. Genome Announc 1 (6): . doi:10.1128/genomeA.00930-13

[7] Schramm, De Beer, Wagner, Amann (1998): Identification and activities in situ of Nitrosospira and Nitrospira spp. as dominant populations in a nitrifying fluidized bed reactor. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 64 (9): 3480-5.

[8] Watson, Graham, Remsen, Valois (1971): A lobular, ammonia-oxidizing bacterium, Nitrosolobus multiformis nov.gen.nov.sp. Arch Mikrobiol 76 (3): 183-203.

[9] Kindaichi, Ito, Okabe (2004): Ecophysiological interaction between nitrifying bacteria and heterotrophic bacteria in autotrophic nitrifying biofilms as determined by microautoradiography-fluorescence in situ hybridization. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 70 (3): 1641-50.

[10] Schmidt, Sliekers, Schmid, Bock, Fuerst, Kuenen, et al. (2003): New concepts of microbial treatment processes for the nitrogen removal in wastewater. FEMS Microbiol. Rev. 27 (4): 481-92. doi:10.1016/S0168-6445(03)00039-1

[11] Harms, Koops, Wehrmann (1976): An ammonia-oxidizing bacterium, Nitrosovibrio tenuis nov. gen. nov. sp. Arch. Microbiol. 108 (1): 105-11.

[12] Urakawa, Garcia, Nielsen, Le, Kozlowski, Stein, et al. (2015): Nitrosospira lacus sp. nov., a psychrotolerant, ammonia-oxidizing bacterium from sandy lake sediment. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 65 (Pt 1): 242-50. doi:10.1099/ijs.0.070789-0

[13] Shaw, Nicol, Smith, Fear, Prosser, Baggs, et al. (2006): Nitrosospira spp. can produce nitrous oxide via a nitrifier denitrification pathway. Environ. Microbiol. 8 (2): 214-22. doi:10.1111/j.1462-2920.2005.00882.x

[14] Watson, S.W. (1971) Taxonomic considerations of the family Nitrobacteriaceae Buchanan. Requests for opinions. Int. J. Syst. Bacteriol. 21(3): 254-270. - Watson 1971docx -

[15] Head, Hiorns, Embley, McCarthy, Saunders (1993): The phylogeny of autotrophic ammonia-oxidizing bacteria as determined by analysis of 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequences. J. Gen. Microbiol. 139 Pt 6 (): 1147-53. doi:10.1099/00221287-139-6-1147

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