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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1981 Mar;41(3):705-9.

Dissimilatory reduction of nitrate and nitrite in the bovine rumen: nitrous oxide production and effect of acetylene.


15N tracer methods and gas chromatography coupled to an electron capture detector were used to investigate dissimilatory reduction of nitrate and nitrite by the rumen microbiota of a fistulated cow. Ammonium was the only 15N-labeled end product of quantitative significance. Only traces of nitrous oxide were detected as a product of nitrate reduction; but in experiments with nitrite, up to 0.3% of the added nitrogen accumulated as nitrous oxide, but it was not further reduced. Furthermore, when 13NO3- was incubated with rumen microbiota virtually no [13N]N2 was produced. Acetylene partially inhibited the reduction of nitrite to ammonium as well as the formation of nitrous oxide. It is suggested that in the rumen ecosystem nitrous oxide is a byproduct of dissimilatory nitrite reduction to ammonium rather than a product of denitrification and that the latter process is absent from the rumen habitat.

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