Suboxic respiration in the oceanic water column
Upon oxygen depletion, a suite of alternate oxidants supports microbial respiration and inhibits the onset of sulfate (SO4 2) reduction. Waters in this intermediate state are referred to as ‘oxygen deficient’ or ‘suboxic’. This chapter discusses types of suboxic water column respiration, their occurrence, variability, and significance. Methodological problems are also discussed. Nitrate (NO3 -) is the most abundant suboxic electron acceptor in oceanic water, but the suite of alternate oxidants includes nitrite (NO2 -), nitric oxide (NO), nitrous oxide (N2O), iodate (IO3 -), manganese (Mn III and IV), iron (Fe III), and several other oxidants present at low concentrations. Although canonical denitrification, which involves reduction of nitrate to N2O and N2 is probably the single most important suboxic respiratory pathway in the water column, important additional respiratory pathways for dinitrogen (N2) and N2O production are also considered.
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