Reduction of the powerful greenhouse gas N<inf>2</inf>O in the south-eastern Indian ocean
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© 2016 Raes et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a powerful greenhouse gas and a key catalyst of stratospheric ozone depletion. Yet, little data exist about the sink and source terms of the production and reduction of N2O outside the well-known oxygen minimum zones (OMZ). Here we show the presence of functional marker genes for the reduction of N2O in the last step of the denitrification process (nitrous oxide reductase genes; nosZ) in oxygenated surface waters (180-250 O2 μmol.kg-1) in the south-eastern Indian Ocean. Overall copy numbers indicated that nosZ genes represented a significant proportion of the microbial community, which is unexpected in these oxygenated waters. Our data show strong temperature sensitivity for nosZ genes and reaction rates along a vast latitudinal gradient (32°S-12°S). These data suggest a large N2O sink in the warmer Tropical waters of the south-eastern Indian Ocean. Clone sequencing from PCR products revealed that most denitrification genes belonged to Rhodobacteraceae. Our work highlights the need to investigate the feedback and tight linkages between nitrification and denitrification (both sources of N2O, but the latter also a source of bioavailable N losses) in the understudied yet strategic Indian Ocean and other oligotrophic systems.
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