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Anammox bacteria produce nitrogen gas in oceans' snackbar

sed to proof the abundance of anammox bacteria in the Atlantic Ocean. The discovery of anammox bacteria in the open ocean has major consequences for our understanding of the global nitrogen cycle. Models of global nitrogen budgets, which play an important role in long term climate predictions, will have to be revised. The discovered nitrogen loss has also consequences for the carbon cycle in marine ecosystems.

Denitrification.
The measurements refute the dominating theory that oceanic nitrogen loss results from the activity of bacteria that convert nitrate (via nitrite) with organic matter to nitrogen gas in the absence of oxygen (denitrification). In fact, the researchers recently discovered that anammox bacteria can use organic matter to convert nitrate into nitrite (much better than denitrifying bacteria). This new finding even increases the importance of anammox bacteria in the ocean.

New species
The anammox bacteria discovered in the Atlantic Ocean are closely related to the bacterial species Scalindua sorokinii, which was recently discovered in the Black Sea (Kuypers et al., 2003 Nature 8 April). Like their relatives in the Black Sea, the Namibian anammox bacteria contain unique ladder molecules (Damsté et al., Nature 17 October 2002) in the membrane surrounding a special prokaryotic organel in which ammonium is converted to nitrogen gas. These ladder molecules are ether bound in the membrane. This property was believed to be restricted to the Archaea, the 'ancient' bacteria.

Waste water treatment
The anammox process, in which ammonium is oxidized with nitrite to nitrogen gas, is a promissing alternative to current methods of nutrient nitrogen removal from waste water. The running costs of a waste water treatment system using the anammox process are only 10% of the costs of current treatment systems using conventional methods. Additionaly, the anammox process could reduce the emission of the greenhouse gas CO2 during w
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Source:Max-Planck-Gesellschaft


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