Although increasing atmospheric nitrous oxide (N2O) has been linked to nitrogen loading, predicting emissions remains difficult, in part due to challenges in disentangling diverse N2O production pathways. As coastal ecosystems are especially impacted by elevated nitrogen, we investigated controls on N2O production mechanisms in intertidal sediments using novel isotopic approaches and microsensors in flow-through incubations. Here we show that during incubations with elevated nitrate, increased N2O fluxes are not mediated by direct bacterial activity, but instead are largely catalysed by fungal denitrification and/or abiotic reactions (e.g., chemodenitrification). Results of these incubations shed new light on nitrogen cycling complexity and possible factors underlying variability of N2O fluxes, driven in part by fungal respiration and/or iron redox cycling. As both processes exhibit N2O yields typically far greater than direct bacterial production, these results emphasize their possibly substantial, yet widely overlooked, role in N2O fluxes, especially in redox-dynamic sediments of coastal ecosystems.
Wankel SD, W Ziebis, C Buchwald, C Charoenpong, D de Beer, J Dentinger, Z Xu, K Zengler. 2017. Evidence for non-traditional N2O formation pathways in nitrogen-impacted coastal ecosystems: fungal and chemodenitrification. Nature Communications. doi: 10.1038/NCOMMS15595.
June 5, 2017