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Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. 1982;48(6):569-83.

Denitrification: ecological niches, competition and survival.


Organisms with the denitrification capacity are widely distributed and in high density in nature. It is not well understood why they are so successful. A survey of denitrifying enzyme content of various habitats is presented which indicates a role of carbon and oxygen, but not nitrate, in affecting denitrifier populations. It is suggested that organic carbon is more important than oxygen status in determining denitrifying enzyme content of habitats. In low oxygen environments, denitrifiers compete with organisms that dissimilate nitrate to ammonium, a process which conserves nitrogen. The energetic and kinetic parameters that affect this competition are evaluated. The latter is examined using Michaelis-Menten theoretical models by varying Vmax, Km, and So (substrate concentration) for the two competing populations. The outcome predicted by these models is presented and discussed in relation to previous data on population densities and Km values for representatives of these competing groups. These models suggest the conditions required to achieve changes in partitioning between the two fates of nitrate. These considerations are important if one is to be able to evaluate and successfully "manage" the fate of nitrate in any habitat.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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