Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2642
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2642
28 Nov 2023
 | 28 Nov 2023

Isotopomer labeling and oxygen dependence of hybrid nitrous oxide production

Colette L. Kelly, Nicole M. Travis, Pascale A. Baya, Claudia Frey, Xin Sun, Bess B. Ward, and Karen L. Casciotti

Abstract. Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a potent greenhouse gas and ozone depletion agent, with a significant natural source from marine oxygen deficient zones (ODZs). Open questions remain, however, about the microbial processes responsible for this N2O production, especially hybrid N2O production when ammonia-oxidizing archaea are present. Using 15N-labeled tracer incubations, we measured the rates of N2O production from ammonium (NH4+), nitrite (NO2-), and nitrate (NO3-) in the Eastern Tropical North Pacific ODZ, as well as the isotopic labeling of the central (α) and terminal (β) nitrogen atoms of the N2O molecule. We observed production of both doubly- and singly labeled N2O from each tracer, with the highest rates of labeled N2O production at the same depths as the near-surface N2O concentration maximum. At most stations and depths, the production of 45N2Oα and 45N2Oβ were statistically indistinguishable, but at a few depths, there were significant differences in the labelling of the two nitrogen atoms in the N2o molecule. Implementing the rates of labeled N2O production in a forward-running model, we found that N2O production from NO3- dominated at most stations and depths, with rates as high as 1.6±0.2 nM N2O/day. Hybrid N2O production, one of the mechanisms by which ammonia-oxidizing archaea produce N2O, had rates as high as 0.23±0.08 nM N2O/day that peaked in both the near-surface and deep N2O concentration maxima. We inferred from the 45N2Oα and 45N2Oβ data that hybrid N2O production by ammonia-oxidizing archaea may have a variable site preference that depends on the 15N content of each substrate. We also found that the rates and yields of hybrid N2O production exhibited a clear [O2] inhibition curve, with the hybrid N2O yields as high as 20 % at depths where dissolved [O2] was 0 µM but nitrification was still active. Finally, we identified a few incubations with dissolved [O2] up to 20 µM where N2O production from NO3- was still active. A relatively high O2 tolerance for N2O production via denitrification has implications for the feedbacks between marine deoxygenation and greenhouse gas cycling.

Colette L. Kelly, Nicole M. Travis, Pascale A. Baya, Claudia Frey, Xin Sun, Bess B. Ward, and Karen L. Casciotti

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2642', Julie Granger, 13 Dec 2023
    • AC4: 'Reply on CC1', Colette LaMonica Kelly, 19 Feb 2024
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2642', Anonymous Referee #1, 27 Dec 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Colette LaMonica Kelly, 19 Feb 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2642', Anonymous Referee #2, 04 Jan 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Colette LaMonica Kelly, 19 Feb 2024
  • RC3: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2642', Anonymous Referee #3, 20 Jan 2024
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Colette LaMonica Kelly, 19 Feb 2024
Colette L. Kelly, Nicole M. Travis, Pascale A. Baya, Claudia Frey, Xin Sun, Bess B. Ward, and Karen L. Casciotti
Colette L. Kelly, Nicole M. Travis, Pascale A. Baya, Claudia Frey, Xin Sun, Bess B. Ward, and Karen L. Casciotti

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Short summary
We investigated the origins of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, in low oxygen ocean regions. Our findings shed light on the microbial processes behind nitrous oxide production, including “hybrid” nitrous oxide generation by ammonia-oxidizing archaea, one of the most abundant organisms in the ocean. We also observed a strong link between nitrous oxide production and oxygen levels. These results set up potential feedbacks between oxygen depletion and greenhouse gas cycling in the oceans.