Anoxic nitrification in marine sediments.

R. J. G. Mortimer, S. J. Harris, M. D. Krom, Thomas Erich Freitag, James Ivor Prosser, J. Barnes, P. Anschutz, P. J. Hayes, I M Davies

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Abstract

Nitrate peaks are found in pore-water profiles in marine sediments at depths considerably below the conventional zone of oxic nitrification. These have been interpreted to represent non-steady-state effects produced by the activity of nitrifying bacteria, and suggest that nitrification occurs throughout the anoxic sediment region. In this study, SigmaNO3 peaks and molecular analysis of DNA and RNA extracted from anoxic sediments of Loch Duich, an organic-rich marine fjord, are consistent with nitrification occurring in the anoxic zone. Analysis of ammonia oxidiser 16S rRNA gene fragments amplified from sediment DNA indicated the abundance of autotrophic ammonia-oxidising bacteria throughout the sediment depth sampled (40 cm), while RT-PCR analysis indicated their potential activity throughout this region. A large non-steady-state pore-water SigmaNO3 peak at similar to21 cm correlated with discontinuities in this ammonia-oxidiser community. In addition, a subsurface nitrate peak at similar to8 cm below the oxygen penetration depth, correlated with the depth of a peak in nitrification rate, assessed by transformation of N-15-labelled ammonia. The source of the oxidant required to support nitrification within the anoxic region is uncertain. It is suggested that rapid recycling of N is occurring, based on a coupled reaction involving Mn oxides (or possibly highly labile Fe oxides) buried during small-scale slumping events. However, to fully investigate this coupling, advances in the capability of high-resolution pore-water techniques are required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-41
Number of pages4
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Volume276
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Keywords

  • anoxic nitrification
  • diffusive equilibrium in thin films (DET)
  • 16sRNA
  • AMMONIA-OXIDIZING BACTERIA
  • 16S RIBOSOMAL-RNA
  • GRADIENT GEL-ELECTROPHORESIS
  • EARLY DIAGENETIC PROCESSES
  • CLASS PROTEOBACTERIA
  • BETA-SUBDIVISION
  • PORE WATERS
  • VOLTAMMETRIC MICROELECTRODE
  • NITROSOMONAS-EUTROPHA
  • GRASSLAND MANAGEMENT

Cite this

Mortimer, R. J. G., Harris, S. J., Krom, M. D., Freitag, T. E., Prosser, J. I., Barnes, J., ... Davies, I. M. (2004). Anoxic nitrification in marine sediments. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 276, 37-41.