Measurement and distribution of nitrification rates in the oceans

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

42 Scopus citations


Nitrification is the process that converts ammonium to nitrate and thus links the regeneration of organic nitrogen to fixed nitrogen loss by denitrification. The first step, oxidation of ammonia to nitrite, is performed by a phylogenetically restricted group of proteobacteria (ammonia-oxidizing bacteria, AOB) and Crenarchaea (ammonia-oxidizing archaea, AOA). The second step is restricted to nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB) as far as currently known. All three groups are assumed to be autotrophic and obligately aerobic, but the true extent of autotrophy and potential anaerobic pathways in these organisms is currently under investigation. Here, we describe methods for the measurement of nitrification rates in the marine environment, with a focus on seawater systems and stable isotopic tracer methods. The methods vary in analytical requirements but share the need for incubations, which must be optimized for different environments with different substrate concentrations. Recent advances in mass spectrometry now make it possible to minimize incubation artifacts and to achieve greatly improved sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMethods in Enzymology
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages17
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

Publication series

NameMethods in Enzymology
ISSN (Print)0076-6879

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


  • Nitrification
  • ammonia oxidation
  • ammonia-oxidizing archaea
  • nitrification rate
  • nitrifying bacteria
  • nitrite oxidation


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