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

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Robert Upstill-GoddardORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


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 mmol O2 l1 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 350m 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.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Trimmer M, Chronopoulou PM, Maanoja ST, Upstill-Goddard RC, Kitidis V, Purdy KJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature Communications

Year: 2016

Volume: 7

Print publication date: 01/12/2016

Online publication date: 01/12/2016

Acceptance date: 05/10/2016

Date deposited: 06/10/2016

ISSN (electronic): 2041-1723

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/ncomms13451


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