Anammox in Tidal Marsh Sediments: The Role of Salinity, Nitrogen Loading, and Marsh Vegetation
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Anammox bacteria are widespread in the marine environment, but studies of anammox in marshes and other wetlands are still scarce. In this study, the role of anammox in nitrogen removal from marsh sediments was surveyed in four vegetation types characteristic of New England marshes and in unvegetated tidal creeks. The sites spanned a salinity gradient from 0 to 20 psu. The impact of nitrogen loading on the role of anammox in marsh sediments was studied in a marsh fertilization experiment and in marshes with high nitrogen loading entering through ground water. In all locations, nitrogen removal through anammox was low compared to denitrification, with anammox accounting for less than 3% of the total N2 production. The highest relative importance of anammox was found in the sediments of freshwater-dominated marshes, where anammox approached 3%, whereas anammox was of lesser importance in saline marsh sediments. Increased nitrogen loading, in the form of nitrate from natural or artificial sources, did not impact the relative importance of anammox, which remained low in all the nitrogen enriched locations (<1%).