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Electron shuttle potential of biochar promotes dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium in paddy soil

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 20:50 authored by Dan Yuan, Gaoqi Wang, Chunsheng Hu, Shungui Zhou, Tim Clough, Nicole Wrage-Mönnig, Jiafa LuoJiafa Luo, Shuping Qin
Enhancing dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA) is environmentally and agronomically beneficial due to DNRA improving nitrogen (N) retention in soil. However, the rate of DNRA is generally considerably lower than that of denitrification because DNRA requires more electron donors than denitrification. Biochar has been increasingly reported to act as an “electron shuttle” to facilitate electron transfer and to promote redox reactions in soil. Thus, this study aimed to investigate whether and how biochar could enhance the DNRA process in a paddy soil. The results showed that, compared with the no-biochar control, the application of rice straw biochar increased the DNRA rate from 0.2 to 0.7 mg NH4+-N kg−1 dry soil d−1. As well, biochar simultaneously, increased the relative abundance of DNRA functional microbes (nrfA-type microbes) and functional gene (nrfA) expression levels. Biochar's enhancement of DNRA was positively correlated with the biochar properties relevant to electron shuttling (e.g., specific capacitance). In contrast, the application of electron shuttle-weakened biochar (oxidized by H2O2) did not increase, or even decreased, the DNRA rate in the paddy soil. These results demonstrate that biochar can act as an electron shuttle to enhance electron availability for DNRA functional microorganisms and consequently promote the DNRA process in paddy soil. Our results indicate that amendment of paddy soil with biochar containing a high-capacity electron shuttle function is beneficial for preserving N by transforming the mobile nitrate anion into the less mobile ammonium cation in paddy soils.


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Journal title

Soil Biology and Biochemistry




Yuan, D., Wang, G., Hu, C., Zhou, S., Clough, T. J., Wrage-Mönnig, N., Luo, J., & Qin, S. (2022). Electron shuttle potential of biochar promotes dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium in paddy soil. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 172, 108760.

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