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Selective Inhibition of Ammonium Oxidation and Nitrification-Linked N2O Formation by Methyl Fluoride and Dimethyl Ether

  • Laurence G. Miller
  • M. Denise Coutlakis
  • Ronald S. Oremland
  • Bess B. Ward
Publication Date
Aug 01, 1993


Methyl fluoride (CH3F) and dimethyl ether (DME) inhibited nitrification in washed-cell suspensions of Nitrosomonas europaea and in a variety of oxygenated soils and sediments. Headspace additions of CH3F (10% [vol/vol]) and DME (25% [vol/vol]) fully inhibited NO2- and N2O production from NH4+ in incubations of N. europaea, while lower concentrations of these gases resulted in partial inhibition. Oxidation of hydroxylamine (NH2OH) by N. europaea and oxidation of NO2- by a Nitrobacter sp. were unaffected by CH3F or DME. In nitrifying soils, CH3F and DME inhibited N2O production. In field experiments with surface flux chambers and intact cores, CH3F reduced the release of N2O from soils to the atmosphere by 20- to 30-fold. Inhibition by CH3F also resulted in decreased NO3- + NO2- levels and increased NH4+ levels in soils. CH3F did not affect patterns of dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonia in cell suspensions of a nitrate-respiring bacterium, nor did it affect N2O metabolism in denitrifying soils. CH3F and DME will be useful in discriminating N2O production via nitrification and denitrification when both processes occur and in decoupling these processes by blocking NO2- and NO3- production.

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