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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-282
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-282
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 02 Aug 2019

Submitted as: research article | 02 Aug 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript was accepted for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).

Effects of sterilization techniques on chemodenitrification and N2O production in tropical peat soil microcosms

Steffen Buessecker1, Kaitlyn Tylor1, Joshua Nye2, Keith E. Holbert3, Jose D. Urquiza-Muñoz4,5, Jennifer B. Glass6, Hilairy E. Hartnett2,7, and Hinsby Cadillo-Quiroz1,8 Steffen Buessecker et al.
  • 1School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA
  • 2School Molecular Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA
  • 3School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA
  • 4Laboratory of Soil Research, Research Institute of Amazonia’s Natural Resources, National University of the Peruvian Amazon, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru
  • 5School of Forestry, National University of the Peruvian Amazon, Pevas 584, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru
  • 6School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  • 7School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA
  • 8Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA

Abstract. Chemodenitrification – the non-enzymatic process of nitrite reduction – may be an important sink for fixed nitrogen in tropical peatlands with low oxygen, low pH, high organic matter, and variable ferrous iron concentrations. Assessing abiotic reaction pathways is difficult because sterilization/inhibition agents can alter the availability of reactants by changing iron speciation and organic matter composition. We compared six commonly used soil sterilization techniques – γ-irradiation, chloroform, autoclaving, and chemical inhibitors (mercury, zinc, and azide) – for their compatibility with chemodenitrification assays for tropical peatland soils (organic-rich low pH soil from the Eastern Amazon). Out of the six techniques, γ-irradiation resulted in soil treatments with lowest cell viability and denitrification activity, and least effect on pH, iron speciation, and organic matter composition. Nitrite depletion rates in γ-irradiated soils were highly similar to untreated/live soils, whereas other sterilization techniques showed deviations. Chemodenitrification was a dominant process in tropical peatland soils assayed in this study. Abiotic N2O production was low to moderate (3–16 % of converted nitrite), and different sterilization techniques lead to significant variations on production rates due to inherent processes or potential artifacts. Our work represents the first methodological basis for testing the abiotic denitrification and N2O production potential in tropical peatland soil.

Steffen Buessecker et al.
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Steffen Buessecker et al.
Steffen Buessecker et al.
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Short summary
We investigated the potential of chemical reduction of nitrite into nitrous oxide (N2O) in soils from tropical peat. Among treatments, irradiation resulted in the lowest biological interference and least change of native soil chemistry (iron and organic matter). Nitrite depletion was as high in live or irradiated soils, and N2O production was significant in all tests. Thus, non-biological production of N2O may be widely underestimated among wetland and tropical peatlands.
We investigated the potential of chemical reduction of nitrite into nitrous oxide (N2O) in soils...
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