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Microbes Environ. 2011;26(4):282-92. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

Nitrogen cycling in rice paddy environments: past achievements and future challenges.

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Division of Environmental Engineering, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan.


Nitrogen is generally the most limiting nutrient for rice production. In rice paddy soils, various biochemical processes can occur regarding N cycling, including nitrification, denitrification, and nitrogen fixation. Since its discovery in the 1930s, the nitrification-denitrification process has been extensively studied in Japan. It may cause N loss from rice paddy soils, while it can also reduce environmental pollutions such as nitrate leaching and emission of nitrous oxide (N(2)O). In this review article, we first summarize the early and important findings regarding nitrification-denitrification in rice paddy soils, and then update recent findings regarding key players in denitrification and N(2)O reduction. In addition, we also discuss the potential occurrence of other newly found reactions in the N cycle, such as archaeal ammonia oxidization, fungal denitrification, anaerobic methane oxidation coupled with denitrification, and anaerobic ammonium oxidation.

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