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Anaerobic ammonium oxidation by anammox bacteria in the Black Sea

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

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Strous,  M.
Microbial Fitness Group, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Kuypers, M. M. M., Sliekers, A. O., Lavik, G., Schmid, M., Jørgensen, B. B., Kuenen, J. G., et al. (2003). Anaerobic ammonium oxidation by anammox bacteria in the Black Sea. Nature, 422(6932), 608-611.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-D23B-0
Abstract
The availability of fixed inorganic nitrogen (nitrate, nitrite and ammonium) limits primary productivity in many oceanic regions1. The conversion of nitrate to N2 by heterotrophic bacteria (denitrification) is believed to be the only important sink for fixed inorganic nitrogen in the ocean2. Here we provide evidence for bacteria that anaerobically oxidize ammonium with nitrite to N2 in the world's largest anoxic basin, the Black Sea. Phylogenetic analysis of 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequences shows that these bacteria are related to members of the order Planctomycetales performing the anammox (anaerobic ammonium oxidation) process in ammonium-removing bioreactors3. Nutrient profiles, fluorescently labelled RNA probes, 15N tracer experiments and the distribution of specific ‘ladderane’ membrane lipids4 indicate that ammonium diffusing upwards from the anoxic deep water is consumed by anammox bacteria below the oxic zone. This is the first time that anammox bacteria have been identified and directly linked to the removal of fixed inorganic nitrogen in the environment. The widespread occurrence of ammonium consumption in suboxic marine settings5,6,7 indicates that anammox might be important in the oceanic nitrogen cycle.