Research Article Open Access

Enumeration of Microbes and Gas Production During Denitrification and Nitrogen Fixation Processes in Soil

A. E. Ghaly1 and K. N. MacDonald1
  • 1 Department of Process Engineering and Applied Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada

Abstract

Dry plant material contains 2-4% nitrogen, making it an essential nutrient for all plants. The nitrogen cycle regulates the pathways which transform nitrogen from a relatively inert dinitrogen gas to forms of organic nitrogen such as proteins and nucleic acids. Denitrification and nitrogen fixation are the two most important processes that remove and add nitrogen to the soil, respectively. The aim of the study was to gain information on the denitrification and nitrogen fixing activities in soil and sediment employing the acetylene technique and assuring the gas chromatography analysis by total plate count and most probably number. The results indicated that acetylene (0.1 atm) inhibited N2O reduction and caused stoichiometric accumulation of N2O during the conversion of NO3- to N2. N2O was an obligatory intermediate in the sequence of steps between N2O- and N2. The appearance of CO2 and accumulation of N2O would be suitable criteria for the presence of denitrifiers in appropriately enriched media and the acetylene reduction test is a suitable assay for nitrogen fixing activity. There was an obligatory requirement for organic carbon as a carbon and energy source for denitrification and nitrogen fixation to take place. The results showed that acetylglucosamine can be used as a carbon and energy source for denitrification but not as a nitrogen source (C:N ratio of 5:1). NH4+ has no effect on denitrification activity but it inhibited the nitrogenase activity. The presence of air in the gas phase affects both the denitrification and nitrogen fixing activity while adding H2O encouraged anaerobic conditions.

American Journal of Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Volume 7 No. 3, 2012, 357-369

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3844/ajabssp.2012.357.369

Submitted On: 17 August 2012 Published On: 11 September 2012

How to Cite: Ghaly, A. E. & MacDonald, K. N. (2012). Enumeration of Microbes and Gas Production During Denitrification and Nitrogen Fixation Processes in Soil. American Journal of Agricultural and Biological Sciences, 7(3), 357-369. https://doi.org/10.3844/ajabssp.2012.357.369

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Keywords

  • Denitrification
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Soil
  • Bacteria
  • Enumeration
  • NO3-
  • NO2-
  • N2O
  • N2
  • C2H2
  • C2H4
  • CO2
  • Acetylglucosamine
  • Carbon
  • Energy