Biological nitrous oxide consumption in oxygenated waters of the high latitude Atlantic Ocean

Andrew P. Rees, Ian J. Brown, Amal Jayakumar, Gennadi Lessin, Paul J. Somerfield, Bess B. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Nitrous oxide (N2O) is important to the global radiative budget of the atmosphere and contributes to the depletion of stratospheric ozone. Globally the ocean represents a large net flux of N2O to the atmosphere but the direction of this flux varies regionally. Our understanding of N2O production and consumption processes in the ocean remains incomplete. Traditional understanding tells us that anaerobic denitrification, the reduction of NO3 to N2 with N2O as an intermediate step, is the sole biological means of reducing N2O, a process known to occur in anoxic environments only. Here we present experimental evidence of N2O removal under fully oxygenated conditions, coupled with observations of bacterial communities with novel, atypical gene sequences for N2O reduction. The focus of this work was on the high latitude Atlantic Ocean where we show bacterial consumption sufficient to account for oceanic N2O depletion and the occurrence of regional sinks for atmospheric N2O.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number36
JournalCommunications Earth and Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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