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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2008 Apr;6(4):320-6. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1857.

Anammox bacteria: from discovery to application.

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Department of Biotechnology, Delft University of Technology, Julianalaan 67, 2628 BC, Delft, The Netherlands.


Anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox) bacteria, which were discovered in waste-water sludge in the early 1990s, have the unique metabolic ability to combine ammonium and nitrite or nitrate to form nitrogen gas. This discovery led to the realization that a substantial part of the enormous nitrogen losses that are observed in the marine environment--up to 50% of the total nitrogen turnover--were due to the activity of these bacteria. In this Timeline, Gijs Kuenen recalls the discovery of these unique microorganisms and describes the continuing elucidation of their roles in environmental and industrial microbiology.

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