The redoxclines that form between the oxic and anoxic water layers in the central Baltic Sea are sites of intensive nitrogen cycling. To gain better understanding of nitrification, we measured the biogeochemical properties along with potential nitrification rates and analyzed the assemblages of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and archaea using functional gene microarrays. To estimate nitrification in the entire water column, we constructed a regression model for the nitrification rates and applied it to the conditions prevailing in the area in 2008–2012. The highest ammonia oxidation rates were found in a thin layer at the top of the redoxcline and the rates quickly decreased below detection limit when oxygen was exhausted. This is probably because extensive suboxic layers, which are known to harbor pelagic nitrification, are formed only for short periods after inflows in the Baltic Sea. The nitrification rates were some of the highest measured in the water columns, but the thickness of the layer where conditions were favorable for nitrification, was very small and it remained fairly stable between years. However, the depth of the nitrification layer varied substantially between years, particularly in the eastern Gotland Basin (EGB) due to turbulence in the water column. The ammonia oxidizer communities clustered differently between the eastern and western Gotland Basin (WGB) and the composition of ammonia-oxidizing assemblages correlated with the environmental variables. The ammonia oxidizer community composition was more even in the EGB, which may be related to physical instability of the redoxcline that does not allow predominance of a single archetype, whereas in the WGB, where the position of the redoxcline is more constant, the ammonia-oxidizing community was less even. Overall the ammonia-oxidizing communities in the Baltic Sea redoxclines were very evenly distributed compared to other marine environments where microarrays have been applied previously.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aquatic Science
- Ammonia-oxidizing archaea
- Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria
- Baltic sea