Nitrous oxide as a function of oxygen and archaeal gene abundance in the North Pacific

Mark Trimmer, Panagiota-Myrsini Chronopoulou, Susanna T. Maanoja, Robert C. Upstill-Goddard, Vassilis Kitidis, Kevin Purdy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)
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Oceanic oxygen minimum zones are strong sources of the potent greenhouse gas N2O but its microbial source is unclear. We characterized an exponential response in N2O production to decreasing oxygen between 1 and 30 μmol O2 l−1 within and below the oxycline using 15NO2−, a relationship that held along a 550 km offshore transect in the North Pacific. Differences in the overall magnitude of N2O production were accounted for by archaeal functional gene abundance. A one-dimensional (1D) model, parameterized with our experimentally derived exponential terms, accurately reproduces N2O profiles in the top 350 m of water column and, together with a strong 45N2O signature indicated neither canonical nor nitrifier–denitrification production while statistical modelling supported production by archaea, possibly via hybrid N2O formation. Further, with just archaeal N2O production, we could balance high-resolution estimates of sea-to-air N2O exchange. Hence, a significant source of N2O, previously described as leakage from bacterial ammonium oxidation, is better described by low-oxygen archaeal production at the oxygen minimum zone’s margins.
Original languageEnglish
Article number13451
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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