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Acidophilic denitrifiers dominate the N2O production in a 100-year-old tea orchard soil

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Aerobic denitrification is the main process for high N2O production in acid tea field soil. However, the biological mechanisms for the high emission are not fully understood. In this study, we examined N2O emission and denitrifier communities in 100-year-old tea soils with four pH levels (3.71, 5.11, 6.19, and 7.41) and four nitrate concentration (0, 50, 200, and 1000 mg kg−1 of NO3 -N) addition. Results showed the highest N2O emission (10.1 mg kg−1 over 21 days) from the soil at pH 3.71 with 1000 mg kg−1 NO3 addition. The N2O reduction and denitrification enzyme activity in the acid soils (pH <7.0) were significantly higher than that of soils at pH 7.41. Moreover, TRF 78 of nirS and TRF 187 of nosZ dominated in soils of pH 3.71, suggesting an important role of acidophilic denitrifiers in N2O production and reduction. CCA analysis also showed a negative correlation between the dominant denitrifier ecotypes (nirS TRF 78, nosZ TRF 187) and soil pH. The representative sequences were identical to those of cultivated denitrifiers from acidic soils via phylogenetic tree analysis. Our results showed that the acidophilic denitrifier adaptation to the acid environment results in high N2O emission in this highly acidic tea soil.

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This work was financially supported by the National Science Foundation of China (No. 31272256, No. 41471206) and Ningbo Natural Science Foundation (No. 2013A610185). The author greatly appreciates the skilled technical assistance and statistical guidance provided by Professor Yongguan Zhu. We thank Lars Molstad, UMB Nitrogen group, and Norwegian University of Life Sciences for providing software and constructing the robotized incubation system for analyzing gas kinetics.

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Correspondence to Huaiying Yao.

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Responsible editor: Zhihong Xu

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Huang, Y., Long, X., Chapman, S.J. et al. Acidophilic denitrifiers dominate the N2O production in a 100-year-old tea orchard soil. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22, 4173–4182 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-014-3653-6

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  • Soil pH
  • Nitrate concentrations
  • N2O emission
  • Tea orchard soil
  • qPCR
  • T-RFLP