Coupled relationships among anammox, denitrification, and dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium along salinity gradients in a Chinese estuarine wetland

Siyang Wang , Zijun Zhou , Lei Ge , Yufang Huang , Yuqian Liu


Received November 19, 2020,Revised , Accepted January 13, 2021, Available online January 26, 2021

Volume 33,2021,Pages 39-46

Salinization in estuarine wetlands significantly alters the balance between their nitrogen (N) removal and retention abilities but these processes have not yet been characterized effectively. In the present study, the potential rates of sediment denitrification, anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox), and dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA) were mapped using N isotope tracing methods along salinity gradients across the Yellow River Delta wetland (YRDW) in China. The contribution of anammox to total dissimilatory N transformations in YRDW was merely 6.8%, whereas denitrification and DNRA contributed 52.3% and 40.9%, respectively. The potential rate of denitrification (5.82 μmol/kg/h) decreased significantly along salinity gradients and markedly exceeded DNRA potential rate (2.7 μmol/kg/h) in fresh wetlands, but was lower than that of DNRA in oligohaline wetlands (3.06 and 3.18 μmol/kg/h, respectively). Moreover, a significantly positive relationship between salinity and DNRA/denitrification was obeserved, indicating that increased salinity may favor DNRA over denitrification. Furthermore, total sulfur (TS) content and ratio of total organic carbon to total nitrogen (C/N) increased with the salinity gradient and showed evident positive relationships with the DNRA/denitrification ratio. In this study, we proved that increased salinization resulted in the dominance of DNRA over denitrification, possible through the addition of S and alteration of the C/N in estuarine wetlands, leading to increased N retention in estuarine wetlands during salinization, which would enhance the eutrophication potential within wetlands and in downstream ecosystems.

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