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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 May 3;102(18):6478-83. Epub 2005 Apr 20.

Massive nitrogen loss from the Benguela upwelling system through anaerobic ammonium oxidation.

Author information

  • 1Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Celsiusstrasse 1, 28359 Bremen, Germany. mkuypers@mpi-bremen.de

Abstract

In many oceanic regions, growth of phytoplankton is nitrogen-limited because fixation of N2 cannot make up for the removal of fixed inorganic nitrogen (NH4+, NO2-, and NO3-) by anaerobic microbial processes. Globally, 30-50% of the total nitrogen loss occurs in oxygen-minimum zones (OMZs) and is commonly attributed to denitrification (reduction of nitrate to N2 by heterotrophic bacteria). Here, we show that instead, the anammox process (the anaerobic oxidation of ammonium by nitrite to yield N2) is mainly responsible for nitrogen loss in the OMZ waters of one of the most productive regions of the world ocean, the Benguela upwelling system. Our in situ experiments indicate that nitrate is not directly converted to N2 by heterotrophic denitrification in the suboxic zone. In the Benguela system, nutrient profiles, anammox rates, abundances of anammox cells, and specific biomarker lipids indicate that anammox bacteria are responsible for massive losses of fixed nitrogen. We have identified and directly linked anammox bacteria to the removal of fixed inorganic nitrogen in the OMZ waters of an open-ocean setting. We hypothesize that anammox could also be responsible for substantial nitrogen loss from other OMZ waters of the ocean.

PMID:
15843458
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC556276
Free PMC Article
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