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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME - Vol. 55, No. 2 - Feature article
An organically enriched estuarine mudflat, combined with plentiful nitrate, provides an ideal environment for anammox bacteria. Image: JC Nicholls, W Mehsana.

Nicholls JC, Trimmer M


Widespread occurrence of the anammox reaction in estuarine sediments


Since the discovery of anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox) in aquatic microbial communities, which has lead to a redefinition of the classic nitrogen cycle, the reaction has been shown to be widespread in marine sediments. However, knowledge of its distribution in estuarine systems is scarce. At 40 sites in nine estuaries throughout south-east England, the contribution from anammox to the removal of nitrogen in the form of N2 was positively correlated with both the concentration of nitrate in the overlying water and the organic carbon content of the sediment. Both nitrate and organic carbon are required to generate the key substrates of the anammox reaction. This study provides firm evidence that the annamox reaction is widespread in estuarine sediments, modulating the flux of land-borne nitrogen to the sea.


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