Anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox), the biochemical process oxidizing ammonium into dinitrogen gas using nitrite as an electron acceptor, has only been recognized for its significant role in the global nitrogen cycle not long ago, and its ubiquitous distribution in a wide range of environments has changed our knowledge about the contributors to the global nitrogen cycle. Currently, several groups of methods are used in detection of anammox bacteria based on their physiological and biochemical characteristics, cellular chemical composition, and both 16S rRNA gene and selective functional genes as biomarkers, including hydrazine oxidoreductase and nitrite reductase encoding genes hzo and nirS, respectively. Results from these methods coupling with advances in quantitative PCR, reverse transcription of mRNA genes and stable isotope labeling have improved our understanding on the distribution, diversity, and activity of anammox bacteria in different environments both natural and engineered ones. In this review, we summarize these methods used in detection of anammox bacteria from various environments, highlight the strengths and weakness of these methods, and also discuss the new development potentials on the existing and new techniques in the future
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