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Nitrifier denitrification as a distinct and significant source of nitrous oxide from soil

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jan DolfingORCiD


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Soils are the major source of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O) to our atmosphere. A thorough understanding of terrestrial N2O production is therefore essential. N2O can be produced by nitrifiers, denitrifiers, and by nitrifiers paradoxically denitrifying. The latter pathway, though well-known in pure culture, has only recently been demonstrated in soils. Moreover, nitrifier denitrification appeared to be much less important than classical nitrate-driven denitrification. Here we studied a poor sandy soil, and show that when moisture conditions are sub-optimal for denitrification, nitrifier denitrification can be a major contributor to N2O emission from this soil. We conclude that the relative importance of classical and nitrifier denitrification in N2O emitted from soil is a function of the soil moisture content, and likely of other environmental conditions as well. Accordingly, we suggest that nitrifier denitrification should be routinely considered as a major source of N2O from soil. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kool DM, Dolfing J, Wrage N, Van Groenigen JW

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Soil Biology & Biochemistry

Year: 2011

Volume: 43

Issue: 1

Pages: 174-178

Print publication date: 08/10/2010

ISSN (print): 0038-0717

ISSN (electronic): 1879-3428

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2010.09.030


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Funder referenceFunder name
European Commission
Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research/Earth and Life Sciences (NWO-ALW)
GOCE-017841NitroEurope IP