SUMMARY: Gel-stabilized model systems have been developed which simulate the physico-chemical gradients found in estuarine sediments of the River Tay, Scotland. Depth profiles of and pH, and of concentrations of NH , NO and NO and dissolved O which developed within the gels were similar to those measured in the sediments. The spatial distribution of populations of nitrifying, nitrate respiring and sulphate reducing bacteria in mature gels showed a good correlation with those recorded in the surface sediments of Kingoodie Bay in the Tay estuary. These data show that NH oxidation by autotrophic nitrifying bacteria ( and ) plays a significant role in the development of pH, NH , NO and NO gradients within the gels, indicating that similar processes may also operate in these sediments.


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