Plant and Soil

, Volume 94, Issue 3, pp 369–382 | Cite as

Binding of nitrite-N on polyphenols during nitrification

  • Sayed El Azhar
  • R. Verhe
  • M. Proot
  • P. Sandra
  • W. Verstraete


The conversion of substantial amounts of ammonia nitrogen into organic nitrogen as a direct result of nitrification at neutral pH-values, was monitored in soil suspensions amended with ammonium nitrogen. The influence of the chemolithotrophic nitrifying bacteria was verified by applying nitrapyrin as a selective inhibitor in control experiments. In addition, the role of phenolic compounds was examined by adding α naphthol. The factors influencing the nitrification processi.e. pH, NH 4 + −N, NO 2 −N, NO 3 −N were measured during a 60 days incubation period. Nitrification started to be active after 5 and 10 days in the normal and the naphthol spiked soil suspensions respectively; it was inhibited in the nitrapyrin controls. Parallel with nitrification, formation of organic nitrogen was observed. The humic matter fractions were extracted and analyzed by I.R. spectroscopy which revealed the valence vibration ranges of nitro and nitroso groups fixed in different positions on aromatic compounds, both for normal and naphthol spiked samples. High resolution gas chromatography combined with mass spectroscopic analysis indicated the formation of nitrosonaphtholes. In addition a novel organic nitro compound was identifiedi.e. an azido nitro benzene. No nitrogen was fixed in the samples treated with nitrification inhibitor. A mechanism for the fixation of nitrite nitrogen during nitrification is proposed.

Key words

Azido nitro benzene Nitrapyrin Nitrification Nitro and nitroso aromatic compounds Organic nitrogen Phenolic compounds 


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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sayed El Azhar
    • 1
  • R. Verhe
    • 1
  • M. Proot
    • 2
  • P. Sandra
    • 2
  • W. Verstraete
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of AgricultureUniversity of GentCoupureBelgium
  2. 2.Faculty of SciencesUniversity of GentGentBelgium

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