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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 70:181-186 (2013)  -  DOI:

Effect of nitrification inhibitors on the Baltic Sea ammonia-oxidizing community and precision of the denitrifier method

Helena Jäntti1,*, Simo Jokinen2, Susanna Hietanen

1University of Helsinki, Department of Environmental Sciences, Aquatic Sciences, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
2University of Eastern Finland, Department of Environmental Science, Biogeochemistry Research Group, 70211 Kuopio, Finland

ABSTRACT: Nitrification is a key process in nitrogen cycling. Several nitrification rate measurement techniques rely on the use of chemical inhibitors that effectively and specifically inhibit nitrifying bacteria. The discovery of ammonia-oxidizing archaea has raised the question of whether these inhibitors are also effective for archaea. The efficiency of 2 commonly used chemicals—allylthiourea (ATU) and nitrapyrin (commercial name N-serve)—in inhibiting nitrification was tested in natural seawater samples containing archaea. In addition, the effect of these inhibitors was tested in a pure culture of Pseudomonas chlororaphis, a bacterium that is used in the denitrifier method to reduce nitrate to nitrous oxide, whose isotopic composition can be analyzed with isotopic ratio mass spectrometers. This method is commonly used in stable isotope based nitrification rate measurements. ATU inhibited nitrification by 80% at a 100 µM concentration, whereas N-serve inhibited nitrification completely at a 150 µM concentration. Although the inhibition of nitrification by ATU was not complete for the natural seawater ammonia-oxidizing community, <100 µM concentration has been shown to be efficient. For N-serve, the previously found effective concentration (150 µM) for the natural ammonia-oxidizing community inhibited nitrification completely. Both ATU and N-serve reduced nitrous oxide production in the denitrifier method, but the 15N atom% values were not affected. The nitrification rates measured with inhibitors should be interpreted with caution because inhibitors can alter the functioning of bacterial methods used to analyze the nitrification rates.

KEY WORDS: Nitrification · ATU · N-serve · 15N · Denitrifier method · Archaea

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Cite this article as: Jäntti H, Jokinen S, Hietanen S (2013) Effect of nitrification inhibitors on the Baltic Sea ammonia-oxidizing community and precision of the denitrifier method. Aquat Microb Ecol 70:181-186.

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