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Combined Gel Probe and Isotope Labeling Technique for Measuring Dissimilatory Nitrate Reduction to Ammonium in Sediments at Millimeter-Level Resolution

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Stief,  P.
Permanent Research Group Microsensor, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Behrendt,  A.
Permanent Research Group Microsensor, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Lavik,  G.
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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De Beer,  D.
Permanent Research Group Microsensor, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Stief11.pdf
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Citation

Stief, P., Behrendt, A., Lavik, G., & De Beer, D. (2010). Combined Gel Probe and Isotope Labeling Technique for Measuring Dissimilatory Nitrate Reduction to Ammonium in Sediments at Millimeter-Level Resolution. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 76(18), 6239-6247.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-CA69-6
Abstract
Dissimilatory NO3− reduction in sediments is often measured in bulk incubations that destroy in situ gradients of controlling factors such as sulfide and oxygen. Additionally, the use of unnaturally high NO3− concentrations yields potential rather than actual activities of dissimilatory NO3− reduction. We developed a technique to determine the vertical distribution of the net rates of dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA) with minimal physical disturbance in intact sediment cores at millimeter-level resolution. This allows DNRA activity to be directly linked to the microenvironmental conditions in the layer of NO3− consumption. The water column of the sediment core is amended with 15NO3− at the in situ14NO3− concentration. A gel probe is deployed in the sediment and is retrieved after complete diffusive equilibration between the gel and the sediment pore water. The gel is then sliced and the NH4+ dissolved in the gel slices is chemically converted by hypobromite to N2 in reaction vials. The isotopic composition of N2 is determined by mass spectrometry. We used the combined gel probe and isotopic labeling technique with freshwater and marine sediment cores and with sterile quartz sand with artificial gradients of 15NH4+. The results were compared to the NH4+ microsensor profiles measured in freshwater sediment and quartz sand and to the N2O microsensor profiles measured in acetylene-amended sediments to trace denitrification.