Contribution of Microorganisms with the Clade II Nitrous Oxide Reductase to Suppression of Surface Emissions of Nitrous Oxide.

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Environmental science & technology


washington; isb; Nitrous Oxide; Bacteria; Oxidoreductases; Denitrification


The sources and sinks of nitrous oxide, as control emissions to the atmosphere, are generally poorly constrained for most environmental systems. Initial depth-resolved analysis of nitrous oxide flux from observation wells and the proximal surface within a nitrate contaminated aquifer system revealed high subsurface production but little escape from the surface. To better understand the environmental controls of production and emission at this site, we used a combination of isotopic, geochemical, and molecular analyses to show that chemodenitrification and bacterial denitrification are major sources of nitrous oxide in this subsurface, where low DO, low pH, and high nitrate are correlated with significant nitrous oxide production. Depth-resolved metagenomes showed that consumption of nitrous oxide near the surface was correlated with an enrichment of Clade II nitrous oxide reducers, consistent with a growing appreciation of their importance in controlling release of nitrous oxide to the atmosphere. Our work also provides evidence for the reduction of nitrous oxide at a pH of 4, well below the generally accepted limit of pH 5.


Institute for Systems Biology