Anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox) bacteria, which were discovered in waste-water sludge in the early 1990s, have the unique metabolic ability to combine ammonium and nitrite or nitrate to form nitrogen gas. This discovery led to the realization that a substantial part of the enormous nitrogen losses that are observed in the marine environment--up to 50% of the total nitrogen turnover--were due to the activity of these bacteria. In this Timeline, Gijs Kuenen recalls the discovery of these unique microorganisms and describes the continuing elucidation of their roles in environmental and industrial microbiology.
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