Short exposure to oxygen and sulfide alter nitrification, denitrification, and DNRA activity in seasonally hypoxic estuarine sediments

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Increased organic loading to sediments from eutrophication often results in hypoxia, reduced nitrification and increased production of hydrogen sulfide, altering the balance between nitrogen removal and retention. We examined the effect of short-term exposure to various oxygen and sulfide concentrations on sediment nitrification, denitrification and DNRA from a chronically hypoxic basin in Roskilde Fjord, Denmark. Surprisingly, nitrification rates were highest in the hypoxic and anoxic treatments (about 5 μmol cm-3 d-1) and the high sulfide treatment was not significantly different than the oxic treatment. Denitrification in the hypoxic treatment was highest at 1.4 μmol cm-3 d-1 and significantly higher than the high sulfide treatment. For DNRA, the rate in high sulfide treatment was 2 μmol cm-3 d-1. This was significantly higher than all oxygen treatments that were near zero. In this system, nitrifiers rapidly recovered from conditions typically considered inhibiting, while denitrifiers had a more muted response. DNRA bacteria appear to depend on sulfide for nitrate reduction. Anammox was insignificant. Thus, in estuaries and coastal systems that experience short-term variations in oxygen and sulfide, capabilities of microbial communities are more diverse and tolerant of suboptimal conditions than some paradigms suggest.


External organisations
  • University of West Florida
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
  • Microbiology
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfny288
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch