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Research article2018Peer reviewedOpen access

Catch Crop Residues Stimulate N2O Emissions During Spring, Without Affecting the Genetic Potential for Nitrite and N2O Reduction

Duan, Yun-Feng; Hallin, Sara; Jones, Christopher M.; Prieme, Anders; Labouriau, Rodrigo; Petersen, Soren O.


Agricultural soils are a significant source of anthropogenic nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions, because of fertilizer application and decomposition of crop residues. We studied interactions between nitrogen (N) amendments and soil conditions in a 2-year field experiment with or without catch crop incorporation before seeding of spring barley, and with or without application of N in the form of digested liquid manure or mineral N fertilizer. Weather conditions, soil inorganic N dynamics, and N2O emissions were monitored during spring, and soil samples were analyzed for abundances of nitrite reduction (nirK and nirS) and N2O reduction genes (nosZ clade I and II), and structure of nitrite- and N2O-reducing communities. Fertilization significantly enhanced soil mineral N accumulation compared to treatments with catch crop residues as the only N source. Nitrous oxide emissions, in contrast, were stimulated in rotations with catch crop residue incorporation, probably as a result of concurrent net N mineralization, and O-2 depletion associated with residue degradation in organic hotspots. Emissions of N2O from digested manure were low in both years, while emissions from mineral N fertilizer were nearly absent in the first year, but comparable to emissions from catch crop residues in the second year with higher precipitation and delayed plant N uptake. Higher gene abundances, as well as shifts in community structure, were also observed in the second year, which were significantly correlated to NO3- availability. Both the size and structure of the nitrite- and N2O-reducing communities correlated to the difference in N2O emissions between years, while there were no consistent effects of management as represented by catch crops or fertilization. It is concluded that N2O emissions were constrained by environmental, rather than the genetic potential for nitrite and N2O reduction.


catch crop; fertilization; nitrous oxide emissions; denitrifier genes; N2O-reduction genes

Published in

Frontiers in Microbiology
2018, Volume: 9, article number: 2629