Articles | Volume 11, issue 2
Research article
23 Jan 2014
Research article |  | 23 Jan 2014

Temperature response of denitrification and anammox reveals the adaptation of microbial communities to in situ temperatures in permeable marine sediments that span 50° in latitude

A. Canion, J. E. Kostka, T. M. Gihring, M. Huettel, J. E. E. van Beusekom, H. Gao, G. Lavik, and M. M. M. Kuypers

Abstract. Despite decades of research on the physiology and biochemistry of nitrate/nitrite-respiring microorganisms, little is known regarding their metabolic response to temperature, especially under in situ conditions. The temperature regulation of microbial communities that mediate anammox and denitrification was investigated in near shore permeable sediments at polar, temperate, and subtropical sites with annual mean temperatures ranging from −5 to 23 °C. Total N2 production rates were determined using the isotope pairing technique in intact core incubations under diffusive and simulated advection conditions and ranged from 2 to 359 μmol N m−2 d−1. For the majority of sites studied, N2 removal was 2–7 times more rapid under simulated advective flow conditions. Anammox comprised 6–14% of total N2 production at temperate and polar sites and was not detected at the subtropical site. Potential rates of denitrification and anammox were determined in anaerobic slurries in a temperature gradient block incubator across a temperature range of −1 °C to 42 °C. The highest optimum temperature (Topt) for denitrification was 36 °C and was observed in subtropical sediments, while the lowest Topt of 21 °C was observed at the polar site. Seasonal variation in the Topt was observed at the temperate site with values of 26 and 34 °C in winter and summer, respectively. The Topt values for anammox were 9 and 26 °C at the polar and temperate sites, respectively. The results demonstrate adaptation of denitrifying communities to in situ temperatures in permeable marine sediments across a wide range of temperatures, whereas marine anammox bacteria may be predominately psychrophilic to psychrotolerant. The adaptation of microbial communities to in situ temperatures suggests that the relationship between temperature and rates of N removal is highly dependent on community structure.

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