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Anaerobic Environments

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Part of the Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series book series (EESS)


Non-aerial environment


An anaerobic environment is characterized by the absence of free oxygen but may contain atomic oxygen bound in compounds such as nitrate (NO3), nitrite (NO2), and sulfites (SO3), in contrast to an aerobic environment where free oxygen is available (WKU, 2013).


Some organisms are successfully adapted to anaerobic environments (EPA, 2012). These organisms do not use O2 as their electron acceptors. There are a number of substances that they will use as a substitute for O2, including (among others) nitrate (NO3), ferric iron (Fe3+), manganese (Mn2+), sulfate (SO42−), and carbon dioxide (CO2) (Scharf, 2000). Bacteria use sulfate as an acceptor for electrons in place of oxygen under anaerobic conditions. As the reduced organic tissue is oxidized to CO2, the sulfate is reduced to sulfide (Nietch, 2000).

In bottom waters of stratified estuaries, oxygen consumed primarily by bacteria will exceed oxygen input via atmospheric and...

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Correspondence to Ayman A. Elgamal .

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© 2016 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

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Elgamal, A.A. (2016). Anaerobic Environments. In: Kennish, M.J. (eds) Encyclopedia of Estuaries. Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series. Springer, Dordrecht.

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