Stored topsoil acts as a microbial inoculant for ecological restoration of land after disturbance, but the altered circumstances frequently create unfavorable conditions for microbial survival. Nitrogen cycling is a critical indicator for ecological success and this study aimed to investigate the cornerstone taxa driving the process. Previous in-silico studies investigating stored topsoil discovered persistent archaeal taxa with the potential for re-establishing ecological activity. Ammonia oxidization is the limiting step in nitrification and as such, ammonia oxidizing archaea (AOA) can be considered as the one of the gatekeepers for the re-establishment of the nitrogen cycle in disturbed soils. Semi-arid soil samples were enriched with ammonium sulfate to promote the selective enrichment of ammonia oxidizers for targeted genomic recovery, and to investigate the microbial response of the microcosm to nitrogen input. Ammonia addition produced an increase in AOA population, particularly within the genus Candidatus Nitrosotalea, from which metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) were successfully recovered. The Ca. Nitrosotalea archaeon candidates' ability to survive in extreme conditions and rapidly respond to ammonia input makes it a potential bioprospecting target for application in ecological restoration of semi-arid soils and the recovered MAGs provide a metabolic blueprint for developing potential strategies towards isolation of these acclimated candidates. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.