Niche specialisation of nitrifying prokaryotes is usually studied with tools targeting molecules involved in the oxidation of ammonia and nitrite. The ecological significance of diverse CO2 fixation strategies used by nitrifiers is, however, mostly unexplored. By analysing autotrophy-related genes in combination with amoA marker genes based on droplet digitial PCR and CARD-FISH counts targeting rRNA, we quantified the distribution of nitrifiers in eight stratified lakes. Ammonia oxidizing (AO) Thaumarchaeota using the 3-hydroxypropionate/4-hydroxybutyrate pathway dominated deep and oligotrophic lakes, whereas Nitrosomonas-related taxa employing the Calvin cycle were important ammonia oxidizing bacteria in smaller lakes. The occurrence of nitrite oxidizing Nitrospira, assimilating CO2 with the reductive TCA cycle, was strongly correlated with the distribution of Thaumarchaeota. Recently discovered complete ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (comammox) belonging to Nitrospira accounted only for a very small fraction of AOs present at the study sites. Altogether, this study gives a first insight on how physicochemical characteristics in lakes are associated to the distribution of nitrifying prokaryotes with different CO2 fixation strategies. Our investigations also evaluate the suitability of functional genes associated with individual CO2 assimilation pathways to study niche preferences of different guilds of nitrifying microorganisms based on an autotrophic perspective.