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Contributions of Autotrophic and Heterotrophic Nitrifiers to Soil NO and N(2)O Emissions

By A. C. Tortoso and G. L. Hutchinson


Soil emission of gaseous N oxides during nitrification of ammonium represents loss of an available plant nutrient and has an important impact on the chemistry of the atmosphere. We used selective inhibitors and a glucose amendment in a factorial design to determine the relative contributions of autotrophic ammonium oxidizers, autotrophic nitrite oxidizers, and heterotrophic nitrifiers to nitric oxide (NO) and nitrous oxide (N(2)O) emissions from aerobically incubated soil following the addition of 160 mg of N as ammonium sulfate kg(−1). Without added C, peak NO emissions of 4 μg of N kg(−1) h(−1) were increased to 15 μg of N kg(−1) h(−1) by the addition of sodium chlorate, a nitrite oxidation inhibitor, but were reduced to 0.01 μg of N kg(−1) h(−1) in the presence of nitrapyrin [2-chloro-6-(trichloromethyl)-pyridine], an inhibitor of autotrophic ammonium oxidation. Carbon-amended soils had somewhat higher NO emission rates from these three treatments (6, 18, and 0.1 μg of N kg(−1) h(−1) after treatment with glucose, sodium chlorate, or nitrapyrin, respectively) until the glucose was exhausted but lower rates during the remainder of the incubation. Nitrous oxide emission levels exhibited trends similar to those observed for NO but were about 20 times lower. Periodic soil chemical analyses showed no increase in the nitrate concentration of soil treated with sodium chlorate until after the period of peak NO and N(2)O emissions; the nitrate concentration of soil treated with nitrapyrin remained unchanged throughout the incubation. These results suggest that chemoautotrophic ammonium-oxidizing bacteria are the predominant source of NO and N(2)O produced during nitrification in soil

Topics: General Microbial Ecology
Year: 1990
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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