Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 20 Issue 02

View Issue TOC
Volume 20, No. 2
Pages 101 - 109


What's New in the Nitrogen Cycle?

By Bess B. Ward , Douglas G. Capone, and Jonathan P. Zehr  
Jump to
Citation Copyright & Usage
First Paragraph

Of all the biogeochemical cycles, nitrogen is the one most intimately and thoroughly associated with microbes. Essential and unique steps in the nitrogen cycle are performed by a wide array of bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes, and the broad outlines of the cycle have been understood for over a century. That is why recent discoveries, in both terrestrial and aquatic environments, have surprised and intrigued the biogeochemical community. In this article, we focus on a few of the most exciting, very recent developments in the nitrogen cycle, summarize the changes in our understanding, and point out some questions to guide future research. The main processes of interest are anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox), aerobic nitrification by archaea, nitrogen fixation by unicellular marine cyanobacteria, and the issue of the balance and coupling between internal input and removal pathways. The nitrogen cycle in marine environments (Figure 1), in whole and in all of it various parts, is thoroughly reviewed in the recent revision of Nitrogen in Marine Environments (Capone et al., in press).


Ward, B.B., D.G. Capone, and J.P. Zehr. 2007. What’s new in the nitrogen cycle? Oceanography 20(2):101–109, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2007.53.

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.