Stief, Peter2; Nielsen, Lars Peter4; Schramm, Andreas4
1 Department of Biological Sciences, Microbiology, Faculty of Science, Aarhus University, Aarhus University2 Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology3 Department of Bioscience - Microbiology, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University4 Department of Bioscience - Microbiology, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University
Many macrofauna species co-ingest large quantities of microorganisms some of which survive the gut passage. Denitrifying bacteria, in particular, become metabolically induced by anoxic conditions, nitrate, and labile organic compounds in the gut of invertebrates. A striking consequence of the short-term metabolic induction of gut denitrification is the preferential production of nitrous oxide rather than dinitrogen. These observations were made in detailed studies on the larvae of the freshwater insects Chironomus plumosus and Ephemera danica which both can be very abundant in lake and stream sediments, respectively. Aside from these case studies, we screened more than 20 macrofauna species in various aquatic habitats for nitrous oxide production. Filter- and deposit-feeders that ingest large quantities of microorganisms were the most important emitters of nitrous oxide. In contrast, predatory species that do not ingest large quantities of microorganisms produced insignificant amounts of nitrous oxide. With increasing eutrophication, filter- and deposit-feeders often become the dominant feeding guilds of benthic communities. Thus, with increasing nitrate pollution, aquatic macrofauna has the potential to further heighten nitrous oxide emission from aquatic ecosystems.