Aerobic Microbial Respiration in Oceanic Oxygen Minimum Zones

Kalvelage, Tim, Lavik, Gaute, Jensen, Marlene M., Revsbach, Niels Peter, Schunck, Harald, Löscher, Carolin, Desai, Dhwani, LaRoche, Julie, Schmitz, Ruth A. and Kuypers, Marcel M. M. (2014) Aerobic Microbial Respiration in Oceanic Oxygen Minimum Zones [Talk] In: Low oxygen environments in marine, estuarine and fresh waters, 05.-09.05.2014, Liege, Belgium.

Full text not available from this repository.


In the oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) of the tropical oceans, sluggish ventilation combined with strong microbial respiration of sinking organic matter results in the depletion of oxygen (O2). When O2 concentrations drop below ~5 µmol/L, organic matter is generally assumed to be respired with nitrate, ultimately leading to the loss of fixed inorganic nitrogen via anammox and denitrification. However, direct measurements of microbial O2 consumption at low O2 levels are - apart from a single experiment conducted in the OMZ off Peru - so far lacking. At the same time, consistently observed active aerobic ammonium and nitrite oxidation at non-detectable O2 concentrations (<1 µmol/L) in all major OMZs, suggests aerobic microorganisms, likely including heterotrophs, to be well adapted to near-anoxic conditions. Consequently, microaerobic (<=5 µmol/L) remineralization of organic matter, and thus release of ammonium, in low- O2 environments might be significantly underestimated at present. Here we present extensive measurements of microbial O2 consumption in OMZ waters, combined with highly sensitive O2 (STOX) measurements and meta-omic functional gene analyses. Short-term incubation experiments with labelled O2 (18-18O2) carried out in the Namibian and Peruvian OMZ, revealed persistent aerobic microbial activity at depths with non-detectable concentrations of O2 (<=50 nmol/L). In accordance, examination of metagenomes and metatranscriptomes from Chilean and Peruvian OMZ waters identified genes encoding for terminal respiratory oxidases with high O2 affinities as well as their expression by diverse microbial communities. Oxygen consumption was particularly enhanced near the upper OMZ boundaries and could mostly (~80%) be assigned to heterotrophic microbial activity. Compared to previously identified anaerobic microbial processes, microaerobic organic matter respiration was the dominant remineralization pathway and source of ammonium (~90%) in the upper Namibian and Peruvian OMZ. Our results reconcile so-far existing mismatches between ammonium sources and sinks in OMZs, and may help to improve biogeochemical modelling of the effects of future ocean de-oxygenation on aerobic and anaerobic organic matter remineralization in these zones.

Document Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Talk)
Research affiliation: Kiel University
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-BI Biological Oceanography
Kiel University > Kiel Marine Science
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2014 10:37
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2014 10:37

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item