THE DISTRIBUTION AND FUNCTION OF DENITRIFICATION GENES: EXPLORING AGRICULTURAL MANAGEMENT AND SOIL CHEMICAL IMPLICATIONS
Yarwood, Stephanie A
MetadataShow full item record
Denitrification is a microbially-mediated process that converts nitrate (NO3-) to dinitrogen (N2) gas and has implications for soil fertility, climate change, and water quality. Using PCR, qPCR, and T-RFLP, the effects of environmental drivers and land management on the abundance and composition of functional genes were investigated. Environmental variables affecting gene abundance were soil type, soil depth, nitrogen concentrations, soil moisture, and pH, although each gene was unique in its spatial distribution and controlling factors. The inclusion of microbial variables, specifically genotype and gene abundance, improved denitrification models and highlights the benefit of including microbial data in modeling denitrification. Along with some evidence of niche selection, I show that nirS is a good predictor of denitrification enzyme activity (DEA) and N2O:N2 ratio, especially in alkaline and wetland soils. nirK was correlated to N2O production and became a stronger predictor of DEA in acidic soils, indicating that nirK and nirS are not ecologically redundant.