Mechanisms of N2O production following chloropicrin fumigation

K. Spokas, D. Wang, R. Venterea, M. Sadowsky

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33 Scopus citations


Soil fumigation has recently been shown to affect the greenhouse gas balance by increasing emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) following chloropicrin (CP) application. However, the exact mechanisms of this increase were not investigated. The purpose of this study was to elucidate potential mechanisms of CP-induced N2O production through laboratory incubations using chemical inhibitors (acetylene, antibacterial, antifungal, and oxygen), isotopically labeled 15N-CP, and pH modifications of a forest nursery soil. Results showed that N2O production increased by 12.6 times following CP fumigation. Microbial activity contributed 82% to the CP-induced N2O production, with the remaining 18% from abiotic processes as determined by incubation with sterilized soil. Inhibitor studies suggested that 20% of the N2O production was from bacteria and 70% from fungi. There were no significant differences in N2O production following CP fumigation under various levels of acetylene (0, 10, and 10 kPa), suggesting that traditional nitrification and denitification reactions did not significantly contribute to N2O production following CP fumigation. 15N labeled studies indicated that 12% of fumigant source N was incorporated into the produced N2O. No enrichment in N2 was observed, indicating that N2O was one of the terminal biotic mineralization products of CP. Production of N2O is aerobic and production rates increased with increasing oxygen concentrations. Our data strongly suggested that fungal mediated denitrification reactions under aerobic conditions were the primary mechanism for CP-induced N2O production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-109
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to express their gratitude to Gil Johnson (University of Minnesota) for the synthesis of 15 N-CP, and David Harris at the UC Davis Stable Isotope Facility for the analytical work on isotopic determinations. We also acknowledge a grant from USDA- Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service and the University of Minnesota Doctorial fellowship that has made this work possible. The authors also wish to thank Jennifer King and William Koskinen for their helpful reviews of this manuscript.


  • Fungi
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Soil fumigation


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