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In wastewater treatment plants based on the rhizosphere zone (rhizoremediation technology), ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) play an important role in the removal of fixed nitrogen. However, the diversity of these bacteria in rhizoremediation wastewater treatment plants is largely unknown. We employed direct PCR amplification and cloning of 16S rRNA genes to determine the phylogenetic affiliation of AOB occurring in root and soil samples of a wastewater treatment plant (Merzdorf plant, Brandenburg, Germany). 16S rDNA clone libraries were screened by hybridization using an oligonucleotide probe specific for AOB of the beta subclass of proteobacteria. Comparative sequence analysis of all hybridization-positive clones revealed that the majority of rDNA sequences was affiliated to members of the genus Nitrosospira and formed a novel subcluster (SM cluster), whereas only three sequences were most closely related to Nitrosomonas species. Affiliation of the novel Nitrosospira-like sequences with those of isolates from soil and rhizosphere suggests that phylogenetic clusters reflect physiological differences between members of this genus.