At the margins of oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) at ultralow oxygen concentrations, aerobic ammonium and nitrite oxidizers compete for nitrogen with anaerobic microorganisms. Thus they play an important but so far overlooked role in controlling nitrogen loss in OMZs.
An international group of researchers including Laura Bristow from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen unveiled a surprising feature in the oceanic nitrogen cycle. The researchers were working in oxygen minimum zones (OMZs), which are hot spots in the nitrogen cycle. OMZs are areas in the ocean that contain very little or no oxygen. They are a natural phenomenon, but might be expanding due to anthropogenic influence.
Bristow and colleagues discovered that tiny amounts of oxygen are sufficient to drive processes that typically occur in more oxygenated waters. These processes are ammonium oxidation and nitrite oxidation (AmOx and NitOx).
“If only a smidgen of oxygen was present, the ammonium and nitrite oxidizers instantly take advantage”, Bristow says. At the fringes of OMZs and during sporadic intrusions of oxygen, AmOx and NitOx can become very important. They are able to use the few available oxygen molecules around them and oxidize nitrogen. The microorganisms from the OMZ miss out. As a consequence, much less nitrogen is available for anaerobic processes such as anammox and denitrification.
This is important for the nitrogen cycle as, for example, anammox bacteria are very active in OMZs, where they transform nitrogen compounds to unreactive N2 gas. The ammonium and nitrite oxidizers, however, keep the nitrogen in an available form. Their activity at ultralow oxygen concentrations thus influences nitrogen cycling in the ocean, which itself has a major influence on the marine carbon cycle.
„We never had the technology before to look at AmOx and NitOx at the relevant oxygen concentrations”, says Bristow, explaining the motivation for this study. “We wanted to know how much these “aerobic” processes overlapped with “anaerobic” processes in OMZs and investigate their potential to control nitrogen loss”. Now Bristow and colleagues clearly show: AmOx und NitOx have an exceptionally high affinity for oxygen.
„Next we need to include AmOX and NitOx in our OMZ models”, Bristow looks into the future. First, the scientists want to take a closer look at the involved organisms. „I hope that more of these organisms will either be isolated, or that we can gain more data about them using molecular techniques. Both would allow us to further investigate how they function.”
As an essential nutrient, nitrogen plays a critical role in regulating oceanic primary productivity. Microorganisms cause nitrogen to be cycled between many different forms (ammonium, nitrate, nitrite, N2 gas). Some forms of nitrogen are available to organisms, others aren’t and a number of these transformations can only occur when oxygen is present. It’s a complex puzzle, not all parts of which are understood to date.
Ammonium and nitrite oxidation at nanomolar oxygen concentrations in oxygen minimum zone waters. Laura A. Bristow, Tage Dalsgaard, Laura Tiano, Daniel B. Mills, Anthony Bertagnolli, Jody J. Wright, Steven J. Hallam, Osvaldo Ulloa, Donald E. Canfield, Niels Peter Revsbech and Bo Thamdrup. PNAS.
Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany
University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
Universidad de Concepción, Casilla, Concepción, Chile
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Dr. Fanni Aspetsberger | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie
Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences