Marine Nitrogen Cycle

The absence of loss

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Science  06 Jan 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6320, pp. 36
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6320.36-a

Little nitrogen loss occurs in the oxygen minimum zone of the Bay of Bengal.

PHOTO: RAJARSHI CHOWDHURY/GETTY IMAGES

Anaerobic microbial processes in oxygen minimum zones cause a disproportionately large fraction of the loss of fixed nitrogen in the open ocean. Interestingly, though, there has been no indication of such nitrogen loss in the oxygen minimum zone of the Bay of Bengal. Bristow et al. quantify the abundance of microbial genes associated with N2 production to help resolve this enigma, finding that the Bay of Bengal supports denitrifier and anammox microbial populations that mediate low but significant N loss while at the same time allowing the trace levels of oxygen to support nitrite oxidation. If this oxygen were removed, nitrogen loss in the Bay of Bengal oxygen minimum zone could accelerate greatly.

Nat. Geosci. 10.1038/NGEO2847 (2016).

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