Fantastic Fixers

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  16 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5951, pp. 377-378
DOI: 10.1126/science.1181129

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Current global ocean nitrogen budgets do not balance, which suggests that existing models miss or underestimate some contributions to oceanic nitrogen fixation (the conversion of N2 gas to a biologically usable form of nitrogen) (1, 2). However, recent studies have found higher rates of nitrogen fixation in coastal sediments (35) and more abundant nitrogen-fixing organisms in the open ocean (6) than previously observed. This exciting trend continues with the report on page 422 of this issue by Dekas et al. (7), who describe a community of archaea and bacteria in deep-sea “cold seep” sediments that can fix nitrogen. The study reveals direct evidence for a previously unknown environment for nitrogen fixation that can deliver biologically usable nitrogen to deep-sea sediments, and provides a link between the carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur cycles.