Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 35–49 | Cite as

Impacts of varying durations of passive oxygen exposure on freshwater denitrifier community structure and function



Fertilizer use has dramatically increased the availability of nitrate (NO3 ) in aquatic systems. Microbe-mediated denitrification is one of the predominant means of NO3 removal from freshwaters, yet oxygenation (O2)-induced disruptions—e.g., extreme precipitation events—can occur, resulting in a disproportional increase in nitrous oxide (N2O) production and efflux as facultative anaerobic bacterial populations use of O2 as a terminal electron acceptor increases. We examined the effects of 12- and 24-h passive O2 exposure on previously anaerobic bacterial communities focusing on denitrification enzyme activity (DEA), N2O production, and bacterial community 16S rRNA and nitrous oxide reductase gene (nosZ) profiles after 12, 24, and 48 h of anaerobic recovery. Treatments experiencing 24-h O2 exposure had significantly higher DEA 12 h into anaerobic recovery than treatments undergoing 12-h O2 exposure. Initial N2O emissions were significantly lower in the 24-h O2 exposure treatments although by 24 h a dramatic spike (tenfold relative to the 12-h O2 exposure treatments) in N2O concentrations was observed. However, within 6 h (30-h anaerobic recovery) these differences were gone. Community nosZ profiles experiencing 24-h O2 exposure exhibited reduced diversity after 24-h recovery, which corresponded with an increase in N2O emissions. However, after 48 h of anaerobic recovery, nosZ diversity had recovered. These observations highlight the effects of short-term aerobic disruption on denitrification, as well as the effects on the denitrifier community profile. Together, these data suggest that recovery to ambient N cycling is exacerbated by disturbance length due to increased lag time and subsequent loss of denitrifier community diversity.


Denitrification Nitrous oxide Microbial ecology Community structure and function Disturbance ecology Nitrogen cycle 



Funding for portions of this project was provided by the NSF IGERT program (award number 0903560) and an internal Kent State University Graduate Student Senate Research Award.

Supplementary material

10452_2017_9643_MOESM1_ESM.csv (54 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (CSV 54 kb)
10452_2017_9643_MOESM2_ESM.csv (115 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (CSV 114 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesKent State UniversityKentUSA

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