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Isotopic evidence for alteration of nitrous oxide emissions and producing pathways' contribution under nitrifying conditions

Abstract : Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from a nitrifying biofilm reactor were investigated with N2O isotopocules. The nitrogen isotopomer site preference of N2O (N-15-SP) indicated the contribution of producing and consuming pathways in response to changes in oxygenation level (from 0% to 21% O-2 in the gas mix), temperature (from 13.5 to 22.3 degrees C) and ammonium concentrations (from 6.2 to 62.1 mg N L-1). Nitrite reduction, either nitrifier denitrification or heterotrophic denitrification, was the main N2O-producing pathway under the tested conditions. Difference between oxidative and reductive rates of nitrite consumption was discussed in relation to NO2- concentrations and N2O emissions. Hence, nitrite oxidation rates seem to decrease as compared to ammonium oxidation rates at temperatures above 20 degrees C and under oxygen-depleted atmosphere, increasing N2O production by the nitrite reduction pathway. Below 20 degrees C, a difference in temperature sensitivity between hydroxylamine and ammonium oxidation rates is most likely responsible for an increase in N2O production via the hydroxylamine oxidation pathway (nitrification). A negative correlation between the reaction kinetics and the apparent isotope fractionation was additionally shown from the variations of delta N-15 and delta O-18 values of N2O produced from ammonium. The approach and results obtained here, for a nitrifying biofilm reactor under variable environmental conditions, should allow for application and extrapolation of N2O emissions from other systems such as lakes, soils and sediments.
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Guillaume Humbert, Mathieu Sebilo, Justine Fiat, Longqi Lang, Ahlem Filali, et al.. Isotopic evidence for alteration of nitrous oxide emissions and producing pathways' contribution under nitrifying conditions. Biogeosciences, European Geosciences Union, 2020, 17 (4), pp.979-993. ⟨10.5194/bg-17-979-2020⟩. ⟨hal-02904375⟩

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