Nitrification in Marine Systems

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

210 Scopus citations


This chapter presents new information on the NH3-oxidizing Archaea, which were unknown at the times of the earlier reviews. The most important organisms in aerobic nitrification are nitrifying bacteria and the NH3 oxidizing Archaea (AOA). Until very recently, the known nitrifiers were restricted to the Proteobacterial phylum. There are two functionally distinct groups of nitrifiers: those that oxidize NH4+ to NO2- (NH3-oxidizing bacteria and Archaea, NH3-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and AOA) and those that oxidize nitrite to NO3- (NO2- -oxidizing bacteria, NOB). No organism is known to carry out both reactions. These unique metabolic traits are not without costs; the chemolithoautotrophic lifestyle enables nitrifiers to exploit a unique niche in natural systems, but also confers constraints such as slow growth and inflexible nutritional requirements. A new group of aerobic NO3- oxidizing nitrifiers was recently discovered, first by detection of NH3 oxidizing genes of apparent Archaeal origin in environmental metagenomic libraries and subsequently verified with the cultivation of a strain of Archaea (NH3-oxidizing Archaea, AOA) that oxidizes NH3 to NO2-, apparently using a pathway very much like that known in AOB. It now seems likely that AOA are more abundant than AOB in marine systems, and are also prevalent in soils. © 2008

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNitrogen in the Marine Environment
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages63
ISBN (Print)9780123725226
StatePublished - 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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