Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-448
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-448
25 Mar 2024
 | 25 Mar 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Physicochemical Perturbation Increases Nitrous Oxide Production in Soils and Sediments

Nathaniel B. Weston, Cynthia Troy, Patrick J. Kearns, Jennifer L. Bowen, William Porubsky, Christelle Hyacinthe, Christof Meile, Philippe Van Cappellen, and Samantha B. Joye

Abstract. Atmospheric concentrations of nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas that is also responsible for significant stratospheric ozone depletion, have increased in response to intensified use of agricultural fertilizers and other human activities that have accelerated nitrogen cycling processes. Microbial denitrification in soils and sediments is a major source of N2O, produced as an intermediate during the reduction of oxidized forms of nitrogen to dinitrogen gas (N2). Substrate availability (nitrate and organic matter) and environmental factors such as oxygen levels, temperature, moisture, and pH influence rates of denitrification and N2O production. Here we describe the role of physicochemical perturbation (defined here as a change from the ambient environmental conditions) on denitrification and N2O production. Changes in salinity, temperature, moisture, pH, and zinc in agricultural soils induced a short-term perturbation response characterized by lower rates of total denitrification and higher rates of net N2O production. The N2O to total denitrification ratio (N2O : DNF) increased strongly with physicochemical perturbation. A salinity press experiment on tidal freshwater marsh soils revealed that increased N2O production was likely driven by transcriptional inhibition of the nitrous oxide reductase (nos) gene, and that the microbial community adapted to altered salinity over a relatively short (within one month) timeframe. Perturbation appeared to confer resilience to subsequent disturbance, and denitrifiers from an environment without salinity fluctuations (tidal freshwater estuarine sediments) demonstrated a stronger N2O perturbation response than denitrifiers from environments with more variable salinity (oligohaline and mesohaline estuarine sediments), suggesting that the denitrifying community from physicochemically stable environments may have a stronger perturbation response. These findings provide a framework for improving our understanding of the dynamic nature of N2O production in soils and sediments, in which changes in physical and/or chemical conditions initiate a short-term perturbation response that promotes N2O production that moderates over time and with subsequent physicochemical perturbation.

Nathaniel B. Weston, Cynthia Troy, Patrick J. Kearns, Jennifer L. Bowen, William Porubsky, Christelle Hyacinthe, Christof Meile, Philippe Van Cappellen, and Samantha B. Joye

Status: open (until 15 May 2024)

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Nathaniel B. Weston, Cynthia Troy, Patrick J. Kearns, Jennifer L. Bowen, William Porubsky, Christelle Hyacinthe, Christof Meile, Philippe Van Cappellen, and Samantha B. Joye
Nathaniel B. Weston, Cynthia Troy, Patrick J. Kearns, Jennifer L. Bowen, William Porubsky, Christelle Hyacinthe, Christof Meile, Philippe Van Cappellen, and Samantha B. Joye

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Short summary
Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a potent greenhouse and ozone depleting gas produced largely from microbial nitrogen cycling processes, and human activities have resulted in increases in atmospheric N2O. We investigate the role of physical and chemical disturbance to soils and sediments. We demonstrate that the disturbance increases N2O production, the microbial community adapts to disturbance over time, an initial disturbance appears to confer resilience to subsequent disturbance.