Bioturbation: Impact on the marine nitrogen cycle

Laverock, B, Gilbert, J, Tait, K, Osborn, A and Widdicombe, S 2011, 'Bioturbation: Impact on the marine nitrogen cycle', Biochemical Society Transactions, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 315-320.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Bioturbation: Impact on the marine nitrogen cycle
Author(s) Laverock, B
Gilbert, J
Tait, K
Osborn, A
Widdicombe, S
Year 2011
Journal name Biochemical Society Transactions
Volume number 39
Issue number 1
Start page 315
End page 320
Total pages 6
Publisher Portland Press
Abstract Sediments play a key role in the marine nitrogen cycle and can act either as a source or a sink of biologically available (fixed) nitrogen. This cycling is driven by a number of microbial remineralization reactions, many of which occur across the oxic/anoxic interface near the sediment surface. The presence and activity of large burrowing macrofauna (bioturbators) in the sediment can significantly affect these microbial processes by altering the physicochemical properties of the sediment. For example, the building and irrigation of burrows by bioturbators introduces fresh oxygenated water into deeper sediment layers and allows the exchange of solutes between the sediment and water column. Burrows can effectively extend the oxic/anoxic interface into deeper sediment layers, thus providing a unique environment for nitrogen-cycling microbial communities. Recent studies have shown that the abundance and diversity of micro-organisms can be far greater in burrow wall sediment than in the surrounding surface or subsurface sediment; meanwhile, bioturbated sediment supports higher rates of coupled nitrification-denitrification reactions and increased fluxes of ammonium to the water column. In the present paper we discuss the potential for bioturbation to significantly affect marine nitrogen cycling, as well as the molecular techniques used to study microbial nitrogen cycling communities and directions for future study.
Subject Biological Sciences not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) Bioturbation
Microbial community structure
Nitrogen cycle
Nutrient flux
Oxic/anoxic interface
DOI - identifier 10.1042/BST0390315
Copyright notice © The Authors
ISSN 0300-5127
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