Microbial Ecology

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 269–284 | Cite as

Estimation of nitrification rates in flooded soils

  • D.L. Chen
  • P. M. Chalk
  • J.R. Freney
  • C. J. Smith
  • Q. X. Luo


Three techniques for estimating nitrification rates in flooded soils were evaluated in short-term incubation experiments using three soils. The techniques were based on inhibition of either ammonium or nitrite oxidation and 13N isotope dilution. Of four inhibitors of ammonium oxidation evaluated, one (allylthiourea) was ineffective and two (2-ethynylpyridine or phenyl acetylene dissolved in ethanol) promoted immobilization of ammonium. Emulsified 2-ethynylpyridine and acetylene were equally effective inhibitors of ammonium oxidation and had little or no effect on gross rates of N mineralization and immobilization. Four inhibitors of nitrite oxidation were evaluated, but this approach was compromised by the nonspecificity of three of the compounds—potassium cyanide, 2-ethylamino-4-isopropylamino-6-methylthio-s-triazine (ametryne) and 3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1-methylurea (DMU)—and by the partial effectiveness of another (potassium chlorate). Two methods based on isotope dilution gave similar estimates of nitrification rates. These rates were similar to those estimated by inhibition of ammonium oxidation in one soil but were lower in the other two soils. In the latter two soils, nitrification of labeled ammonium derived from dissimilatory nitrate reduction resulted in underestimation of nitrification rates by isotope dilution.


Immobilization Acetylene Isotope Dilution Nitrate Reduction Nitrification Rate 
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Copyright information

© Springer-verlag New York Inc 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • D.L. Chen
    • 1
  • P. M. Chalk
    • 1
    • 2
  • J.R. Freney
    • 1
  • C. J. Smith
    • 3
  • Q. X. Luo
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of Plant IndustryCSIROCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Department of AgricultureUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Division of SoilsCSIROCanberraAustralia
  4. 4.Crop Cultivation and Tillage InstituteJiangxi Academy of Agricultural SciencesNanchang, Jiangxi ProvincePeople's Republic of China

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