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Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 15, Issue 11, pp 2304–2309 | Cite as

Influence of temperature and moisture on the relative contributions of heterotrophic and autotrophic nitrification to gross nitrification in an acid cropping soil

  • Rui LiuEmail author
  • Helen Suter
  • Jizheng He
  • Helen Hayden
  • Deli Chen
Soils, Sec 5 • Soil and Landscape Ecology • Short Original Communication

Abstract

Purpose

Nitrate can be produced through autotrophic and heterotrophic nitrification. Soil temperature and moisture are key factors affecting nitrification; however, how they influence the relative importance of autotrophic and heterotrophic nitrification is still unknown. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of soil temperature and moisture on autotrophic and heterotrophic nitrification in an acid cropping soil.

Materials and methods

An acid cropping soil (pHH2O 4.5) with high organic matter content (6.2 %) was collected from a wheat cropping system and used in a laboratory incubation experiment. Nitrogen as 15NH4Cl and K15NO3 was applied to soil samples which were then incubated for 7 days under 15 °C, 25 °C and 35 °C and 50 % and 70 % water-filled pore space (WFPS). 15N dilution and acetylene (C2H2) inhibition techniques were used to distinguish autotrophic and heterotrophic nitrification. We measured nitrate (NO3 ) and ammonium (NH4 +) concentration and 15NO3 and 15NH4 + enrichment during the incubation.

Results and discussion

The result showed that more heterotrophic nitrification was observed under lower temperature (15 °C) conditions. Around 69 % of the NO3 produced was a result of heterotrophic nitrification at 15 °C and 50 % WFPS and 50 % at 15 °C and 70 % WFPS. However, at 25 and 35 °C, nitrification was largely autotrophic regardless of moisture.

Conclusions

Our results demonstrate that heterotrophic nitrification can be an important N transformation pathway in the studied soil. The contribution of heterotrophic nitrification decreased with increasing temperature and moisture.

Keywords

15N dilution technique Acetylene Autotrophic nitrification Heterotrophic nitrification Moisture Temperature 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of Incitec Pivot Limited and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture through the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rui Liu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Helen Suter
    • 1
  • Jizheng He
    • 1
  • Helen Hayden
    • 2
  • Deli Chen
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural SciencesThe University of MelbourneVictoriaAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Economic DevelopmentJobs, Transport and ResourcesVictoriaAustralia

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