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Revising the nitrogen cycle in the Peruvian oxygen minimum zone

MPS-Authors
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Lam,  P.
Department of Biogeochemistry, 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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Jensen,  M. M.
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Woebken,  D.
Department of Molecular Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Amann,  R.
Department of Molecular Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Kuypers,  M. M. M.
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Lam, P., Lavik, G., Jensen, M. M., van de Vossenberg, J., Schmid, M., Woebken, D., et al. (2009). Revising the nitrogen cycle in the Peruvian oxygen minimum zone. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106(12), 4752-4757.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-CC5E-1
Abstract
The oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) of the Eastern Tropical South Pacific (ETSP) is 1 of the 3 major regions in the world where oceanic nitrogen is lost in the pelagic realm. The recent identification of anammox, instead of denitrification, as the likely prevalent pathway for nitrogen loss in this OMZ raises strong questions about our understanding of nitrogen cycling and organic matter remineralization in these waters. Without detectable denitrification, it is unclear how NH4+ is remineralized from organic matter and sustains anammox or how secondary NO2− maxima arise within the OMZ. Here we show that in the ETSP-OMZ, anammox obtains 67% or more of NO2− from nitrate reduction, and 33% or less from aerobic ammonia oxidation, based on stable-isotope pairing experiments corroborated by functional gene expression analyses. Dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium was detected in an open-ocean setting. It occurred throughout the OMZ and could satisfy a substantial part of the NH4+ requirement for anammox. The remaining NH4+ came from remineralization via nitrate reduction and probably from microaerobic respiration. Altogether, deep-sea NO3− accounted for only ≈50% of the nitrogen loss in the ETSP, rather than 100% as commonly assumed. Because oceanic OMZs seem to be expanding because of global climate change, it is increasingly imperative to incorporate the correct nitrogen-loss pathways in global biogeochemical models to predict more accurately how the nitrogen cycle in our future ocean may respond.