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Evaluating Drivers of Chemodenitrification in Tropical Peat Soil

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Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect and to stratospheric ozone depletion. In soils, nitrogen reduction is performed by biotic and abiotic processes, including microbial denitrification

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect and to stratospheric ozone depletion. In soils, nitrogen reduction is performed by biotic and abiotic processes, including microbial denitrification and chemical denitrification. Chemical denitrification, or chemodenitrification, is the abiotic step-wise reduction of nitrate (NO3-), nitrite (NO2-), or nitric oxide (NO) to N2O in anoxic environments, with high turnover rates particularly in acidic soils. Chemodenitrification was identified in various environments, but the mechanism is still not understood. In this study, the factors influencing abiotic reduction of NO2- to N2O in acidic tropical peat soil are examined. These factors include pH, organic matter content, and dissolved ferrous iron. Anoxic peat soil from sites located in the Peruvian Amazon was used for incubations. The results show that peat soil (pH ~4.5) appears to reduce NO2- more quickly in the presence of lower pH and higher Fe(II) concentrations. NO2- is completely reduced in excess Fe(II), and Fe(II) is completely oxidized in excess NO2-, providing evidence for the proposed mechanism of chemodenitrification. In addition, first order reaction rate constants kFe(II) and kNO2- were calculated using concentration measurements over 4 hours, to test for the hypothesized reaction rate relationships kFe(II): kFe(II) kFe(II)~NO2- > kFe(II)>NO2- and kNO2-: kFe(II)NO2-. The NO2- k values followed the anticipated pattern, although the Fe(II) k value data was inconclusive. Organic material may also play a role in NO2- reduction through chemodenitrification, and future experimentation will test this possibility. How and to what extent the pH and the concentrations of organic matter and Fe(II) affect the kinetic rate of chemodenitrification will lend insight into the N2O production potential of natural tropical peatlands.

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Date Created
  • 2016-05