Sea & Coastal Research

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Project: NICYCLE - The nitrogen cycle and changes in the carrying capacity of coastal waters

Project details

Acronym : NICYCLE
Full project name : The nitrogen cycle and changes in the carrying capacity of coastal waters
Initiating organisation : NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Yerseke
Project leader : L.J. Stal
Supporting organisation(s)-
Financing : nwo
Project number : 83908330
Start date : Jan 01, 2009
End date : Dec 31, 2012


Programme :ZKO - Carrying Capacity: Line 3 - National Programme Sea and Coastal Research (ZKO) - Carrying Capacity: Line 3 - Hypothesis-driven Research
Main project :-


Description :

The main goal of the NYCYCLE project is the elucidation of the nitrogen cycle in the Wadden Sea and the bordering North Sea. The relevant processes will be quantified to understand the changes in carrying capacity of these ecosystems with respect to nitrogen. After carbon, nitrogen is the second most important element for living organisms. Although an important part of the atmosphere is composed of nitrogen, this is only available to a few specialized micro-organisms. Hence, most organisms depend on organically or inorganically bound nitrogen. Because nitrogen compounds are subject to microbial conversions that may eventually leading to the formation of molecular di-nitrogen, this element often limits primary production and thereby the carrying capacity of ecosystems. Recently, remarkable discoveries have been made that have altered our view of the nitrogen cycle dramatically. In order to obtain a comprehensive picture of the nitrogen cycle in Dutch coastal ecosystems this project aims at a multidisciplinary approach in which the various microbial processes and their rates will be measured, and the key players and their interrelationships will be identified. Using state-of-the-art molecular biological techniques, the NYCYCLE project will elucidate the microbial community composition of the key organisms in the nitrogen cycle and by measuring the expression of functional genes involved in key processes it will measure and quantify their activity. The processes themselves will be measured and quantified mostly with stable isotopes. The acquired knowledge will be incorporated in a dynamic mathematical model. Such a model will be an essential tool to monitor, understand, and predict changes in the carrying capacity of marine ecosystems in relation to the nitrogen cycle.