Impacts of storm disturbance and the role of the Feammox process in high nutrient riparian sediments

Arianna E. Sherman, Shan Huang, Peter R. Jaffé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The extensive agricultural feedlot operations in the Neuse River Watershed (NRW) in North Carolina result in high nutrient loading, particularly of ammonium (NH4+). In September 2018, Hurricane Florence devastated large portions of the NRW, creating a unique opportunity to study the impact of such hydrological events on the biogeochemistry of riverine and riparian sediments. The high NH4+ concentrations, naturally acidic conditions, and elevated levels of ferric iron [Fe(III)] in Neuse River sediments and soils provide an ideal environment for Acidimicrobium sp. A6 (referred to hereon as A6), a bacterium capable of conducting the Feammox process in which NH4+ is oxidized while iron is reduced. A6 was observed in all sediment samples obtained from the Neuse River, and it is therefore predicted that this process may be an important mechanism for NH4+ removal in this river system. Incubations of NRW samples indicate that the NH4+ oxidation potential via the Feammox process in the NRW is comparable with aerobic NH4+ oxidation by heterotrophic microorganisms. Given the high demand for Fe(III) by the Feammox process, it has been unclear how such a process may occur in sedimentary environments where ferric iron [Fe(III)] might be depleted. The results presented here show that a major hydrologic storm event can result in an increase in Fe(III) and in an increase in the abundance of Fe-reducing bacteria, including Acidimicrobium sp. A6. These findings indicate that major hydrologic storm events may, via the delivery of Fe(III), be capable of enhancing Feammox activity in riverine sediments that favor the Feammox process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-128
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


  • Acidimicrobium sp. A6
  • Ammonium
  • Feammox
  • Hurricane
  • Iron reduction
  • Nitrogen


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