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Environ Microbiol. 2006 Feb;8(2):214-22.

Nitrosospira spp. can produce nitrous oxide via a nitrifier denitrification pathway.

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Imperial College London, Wye Campus, Department of Agricultural Sciences, Wye, Kent, UK.


Nitrous oxide (N(2)O) emission from soils is a major contributor to the atmospheric loading of this potent greenhouse gas. It is thought that autotrophic ammonia oxidizing bacteria (AOB) are a significant source of soil-derived N(2)O and a denitrification pathway (i.e. reduction of NO(2) (-) to NO and N(2)O), so-called nitrifier denitrification, has been demonstrated as a N(2)O production mechanism in Nitrosomonas europaea. It is thought that Nitrosospira spp. are the dominant AOB in soil, but little information is available on their ability to produce N(2)O or on the existence of a nitrifier denitrification pathway in this lineage. This study aims to characterize N(2)O production and nitrifier denitrification in seven strains of AOB representative of clusters 0, 2 and 3 in the cultured Nitrosospira lineage. Nitrosomonas europaea ATCC 19718 and ATCC 25978 were analysed for comparison. The aerobically incubated test strains produced significant (P < 0.001) amounts of N(2)O and total N(2)O production rates ranged from 2.0 amol cell(-1) h(-1), in Nitrosospira tenuis strain NV12, to 58.0 amol cell(-1) h(-1), in N. europaea ATCC 19718. Nitrosomonas europaea ATCC 19718 was atypical in that it produced four times more N(2)O than the next highest producing strain. All AOB tested were able to carry out nitrifier denitrification under aerobic conditions, as determined by production of (15)N-N(2)O from applied (15)N-NO(2) (-). Up to 13.5% of the N(2)O produced was derived from the exogenously applied (15)N-NO(2) (-). The results suggest that nitrifier denitrification could be a universal trait in the betaproteobacterial AOB and its potential ecological significance is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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