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Review
, 367 (1593), 1157-68

Biological Sources and Sinks of Nitrous Oxide and Strategies to Mitigate Emissions

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Review

Biological Sources and Sinks of Nitrous Oxide and Strategies to Mitigate Emissions

Andrew J Thomson et al. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci.

Abstract

Nitrous oxide (N(2)O) is a powerful atmospheric greenhouse gas and cause of ozone layer depletion. Global emissions continue to rise. More than two-thirds of these emissions arise from bacterial and fungal denitrification and nitrification processes in soils, largely as a result of the application of nitrogenous fertilizers. This article summarizes the outcomes of an interdisciplinary meeting, 'Nitrous oxide (N(2)O) the forgotten greenhouse gas', held at the Kavli Royal Society International Centre, from 23 to 24 May 2011. It provides an introduction and background to the nature of the problem, and summarizes the conclusions reached regarding the biological sources and sinks of N(2)O in oceans, soils and wastewaters, and discusses the genetic regulation and molecular details of the enzymes responsible. Techniques for providing global and local N(2)O budgets are discussed. The findings of the meeting are drawn together in a review of strategies for mitigating N(2)O emissions, under three headings, namely: (i) managing soil chemistry and microbiology, (ii) engineering crop plants to fix nitrogen, and (iii) sustainable agricultural intensification.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Proportions of total global nitrous oxide emitted by various sources and human activities. Adapted from data in the Contribution of Working Group III to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, 2007. Eds B. Metz, O. R. Davidson, P .R. Bosch, R. Dave and L. A. Meyer. Cambridge, UK; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
The microbiological nitrogen cycle. Shown are the several microbial processes that respire or assimilate nitrogen (the oxidation states of N are given in parentheses). The name of each process is indicated. Nitrous oxide (N2O) is an intermediate in denitrification. The anammox reaction, used in wastewater treatment plants, is the catabolism between ammonia and nitrite to yield nitrogen gas, e.g. formula image.

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