Oxidation of iodide to iodate by cultures of marine ammonia-oxidising bacteria

Claire Hughes, Eleanor Barton, Helmke Hepach, Rosie Chance, Matthew D. Pickering, Karen Hogg, Andreas Pommerening-Röser, Martin R. Wadley, David P. Stevens, Tim D. Jickells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Reaction with iodide (I−) at the sea surface is an important sink for atmospheric ozone, and causes sea-air emission of reactive iodine which in turn drives further ozone destruction. To incorporate this process into chemical transport models, improved understanding of the factors controlling marine iodine speciation, and especially sea-surface iodide concentrations, is needed. The oxidation of I− to iodate (IO3−) is the main sink for oceanic I−, but the mechanism for this remains unknown. We demonstrate for the first time that marine nitrifying bacteria mediate I− oxidation to IO3−. A significant increase in IO3− concentrations compared to media-only controls was observed in cultures of the ammonia-oxidising bacteria Nitrosomonas sp. (Nm51) and Nitrosoccocus oceani (Nc10) supplied with 9–10 mM I−, indicating I− oxidation to IO3−. Cell-normalised production rates were 15.69 (±4.71) fmol IO3− cell−1 d−1 for Nitrosomonas sp., and 11.96 (±6.96) fmol IO3− cell−1 d−1 for Nitrosococcus oceani, and molar ratios of iodate-to-nitrite production were 9.2 ± 4.1 and 1.88 ± 0.91 respectively. Preliminary experiments on nitrite-oxidising bacteria showed no evidence of I− to IO3− oxidation. If the link between ammonia and I− oxidation observed here is representative, our ocean iodine cycling model predicts that future changes in marine nitrification could alter global sea surface I− fields with potential implications for atmospheric chemistry and air quality.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104000
JournalMarine Chemistry
Early online date15 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2021

Cite this