Humic substances (HS) are a ubiquitous, recalcitrant, and diverse class of compounds arising from degradation and condensation of plant and microbial biopolymers. Many bacteria oxidize hydroquinones within humic substances to their quinone analogs, providing electrons for respiratory processes such as nitrate reduction. Microbial hydroquinone oxidation contributes to the redox state of HS and supports denitrification, which may be of import to agricultural soils where nitrate retention is critical and HS are prevalent. Most probable number counts were performed on soils collected from a Nebraska farm, with the model humic hydroquinone 2,6- anthrahydroquinone disulfonate (AHDS) serving as an electron donor and nitrate as the electron acceptor. Results indicated that AHDS oxidizing, nitrate reducing bacteria were present in soils from bluegrass fields (104 cells/g) and aspen groves (106 cells/g), as well as in plots of corn (106 cells/g), and soybean treated (106 cells/g) and un-treated (105 cells/g) with pig slurry. These results demonstrate that microorganisms participating in the proposed metabolism are prevalent within agricultural soils. Upflow glass columns were constructed, containing a support matrix of glass beads amended with 10% w/w soil from the corn plot previously mentioned. All columns were subjected to a continual flow of phosphate-buffered water amended with sodium nitrate. Above the point source for nitrate injection, phosphate-buffered water containing electron donor treatments were continually injected. The impacts of electron donor treatments (no donor, oxidized HS, reduced HS, and acetate) on denitrification and other geochemical parameters were observed. Column studies were able to resolve effects of electron donor treatment both spatially as a function of distance from the injection point source, and temporally, as a function of time of donor treatment. Four sample ports in each column were routinely analyzed for concentrations of nitrate, nitrite, Fe(II), and humic-born hydroquinones. All data were analyzed with respect to dilution factors obtained through analysis of a conservative bromide tracer present in electron donor medium. Addition of oxidized HS, reduced HS, and acetate all resulted in significant loss of nitrate from the columns. Significant nitrite accumulation was not observed. Of all the electron donor treatments, reduced HS, enriched for hydroquinone-containing functional moieties, supported the greatest degree of denitrification. The participation of excess hydroquinones in denitrification accounted for approximately 104% of the difference in nitrate reduction between reduced and oxidized HS treatments. This electron balance allowed for assignment of respiratory activity due to hydroquinone oxidation, rather than degradation of humic substances or associated electron-donating compounds. These results suggest that denitrification reactions catalyzed by microbial oxidation of reduced HS may be prevalent in agricultural soils. Likewise, these results demonstrate for the first time that respiratory behavior due to hydroquinone oxidation, as well as impact upon local geochemistry, can be analyzed in complex flow-through model systems.
AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts
- Pub Date:
- December 2007
- 0469 Nitrogen cycling;
- 4802 Anoxic environments (0404;
- 4806 Carbon cycling (0428);
- 4851 Oxidation/reduction reactions (0471)