Effect of Different Carbon Substrates on Nitrate Stable Isotope Fractionation During Microbial Denitrification

Anja Wunderlich, Rainer Meckenstock, Florian Einsiedl

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    In batch experiments, we studied the isotope fractionation in N and O of dissolved nitrate during dentrification. Denitrifying strains Thauera aromatica and “Aromatoleum aromaticum strain EbN1” were grown under strictly anaerobic conditions with acetate, benzoate, and toluene as carbon sources. 18O-labeled water and 18O-labeled nitrite were added to the microcosm experiments to study the effect of putative backward reactions of nitrite to nitrate on the stable isotope fractionation. We found no evidence for a reverse reaction. Significant variations of the stable isotope enrichment factor ε were observed depending on the type of carbon source used. For toluene (ε15N, −18.1 ± 0.6‰ to −7.3 ± 1.4‰; ε18O, −16.5 ± 0.6‰ to −16.1 ± 1.5‰) and benzoate (ε15N, −18.9 ± 1.3‰; ε18O, −15.9 ± 1.1‰) less negative isotope enrichment factors were calculated compared to those derived from acetate (ε15N, −23.5 ± 1.9‰ to −22.1 ± 0.8‰; ε18O, −23.7 ± 1.8‰ to −19.9 ± 0.8‰). The observed isotope effects did not depend on the growth kinetics which were similar for the three types of electron donors. We suggest that different carbon sources change the observed isotope enrichment factors by changing the relative kinetics of nitrate transport across the cell wall compared to the kinetics of the intracellular nitrate reduction step of microbial denitrification.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology (Washington)
    Issue number9
    Pages (from-to)4861-4868
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of Different Carbon Substrates on Nitrate Stable Isotope Fractionation During Microbial Denitrification'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this