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J Environ Sci (China). 2014 Mar 1;26(3):581-92. doi: 10.1016/S1001-0742(13)60453-2.

Sources of nitrous and nitric oxides in paddy soils: nitrification and denitrification.

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State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China. Electronic address:
State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China.
Institute of Geoecology, Technische Universitt Braunschweig, Langer Kamp 19c, D-38106, Braunschweig, Germany.
School of Geography Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210097, China. Electronic address:


Rice-paddies are regarded as one of the main agricultural sources of N 2O and NO emissions. To date, however, specific N2O and NO production pathways are poorly understood in paddy soils. (15)N-tracing experiments were carried out to investigate the processes responsible for N2O and NO production in two paddy soils with substantially different soil properties. Laboratory incubation experiments were carried out under aerobic conditions at moisture contents corresponding to 60% of water holding capacity. The relative importance of nitrification and denitrification to the flux of N2O was quantified by periodically measuring and comparing the enrichments of the N2O, NH(+)4-N and NO(-)3-N pools. The results showed that both N2O and NO emission rates in an alkaline paddy soil with clayey texture were substantially higher than those in a neutral paddy soil with silty loamy texture. In accordance with most published results, the ammonium N pool was the main source of N2O emission across the soil profiles of the two paddy soils, being responsible for 59.7% to 97.7% of total N2O emissions. The NO(-)3-N pool of N2O emission was relatively less important under the given aerobic conditions. The rates of N2O emission from nitrification (N2On) among different soil layers were significantly different, which could be attributed to both the differences in gross N nitrification rates and to the ratios of nitrified N emitted as N2O among soil layers. Furthermore, NO fluxes were positively correlated with the changes in gross nitrification rates and the ratios of NO/N2O in the two paddy soils were always greater than one (from 1.26 to 6.47). We therefore deduce that, similar to N2O, nitrification was also the dominant source of NO in the tested paddy soils at water contents below 60% water holding capacity.


(15)N tracing model; N(2)O; NO; NO/N(2)O; denitrification; nitrification

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