Microbial Ecology

, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 311–320 | Cite as

Anaerobic Ammonium Oxidation (Anammox) in Chesapeake Bay Sediments

  • Jeremy J. Rich
  • Olivia R. Dale
  • Bongkeun Song
  • Bess B. Ward
Original Article


Anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox) has recently been recognized as a pathway for the removal of fixed N from aquatic ecosystems. However, the quantitative significance of anammox in estuarine sediments is variable, and measurements have been limited to a few estuaries. We measured anammox and conventional denitrification activities in sediments along salinity gradients in the Chesapeake Bay and two of its sub-estuaries, the Choptank River and Patuxent River. Homogenized sediments were incubated with 14/15N amendments of \( {\text{NH}}^{ + }_{4} \), \( {\text{NO}}^{ - }_{3} \), and \( {\text{NO}}^{ - }_{2} \) to determine relative activities of anammox and denitrification. The percent of N2 production due to anammox (ra%) ranged from 0 to 22% in the Chesapeake system, with the highest ra% in the freshwater portion of the main stem of upper Chesapeake Bay, where water column \( {\text{NO}}^{ - }_{3} \) concentrations are consistently high. Intermediate levels of relative anammox (10%) were detected at locations corresponding to tidal freshwater and mesohaline locations in the Choptank River, whereas anammox was not detected in the tidal freshwater location in the Patuxent River. Anammox activity was also not detected in the seaward end of Chesapeake Bay, where water column \( {\text{NO}}^{ - }_{3} \) concentrations are consistently low. The ra% did not correlate with \( {\text{NH}}^{ + }_{4} \) accumulation rate in anoxic sediment incubations, but ra% was related to water column \( {\text{NO}}^{ - }_{3} \) concentrations and salinity. Anammox bacterial communities were also examined by amplifying DNA extracted from the upper Chesapeake Bay sediment with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers that are specific for 16S rRNA genes of anammox organisms. A total of 35 anammox-like sequences were detected, and phylogenetic analysis grouped the sequences in two distinct clusters belonging to the Candidatus “Scalindua” genus.



This work was supported by the NSF Microbial Biology Fellowship program (DBI-0301308 to JJR) and the NSF Biocomplexity program (OCE 99-81482 to BBW). We thank the Biocomplexity team for shiptime, supplying some of the nutrient data, and assistance, particularly J. Alexander, J. Cornwell, and M. Owens. We are also indebted to D. A. Bronk, R. Mason, and T. Jordan for shiptime; T. Jordan provided nutrient data for the Patuxent River, as well. We thank T. Dalsgaard, N. Risgaard-Petersen, L. Nielsen, B. Thamdrup, M. Jensen, J. Nicholls, C. Davies, and M. Trimmer for methodological advice and helpful discussions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeremy J. Rich
    • 1
  • Olivia R. Dale
    • 2
  • Bongkeun Song
    • 2
  • Bess B. Ward
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeosciencesPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biology and Marine BiologyUniversity of North Carolina at WilmingtonWilmingtonUSA

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