Kinetics of nitrous oxide (N2O) formation and reduction by Paracoccus pantotrophus

B. L. Read-Daily, F. Sabba, J. P. Pavissich, R. Nerenberg

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19 Scopus citations


Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a powerful greenhouse gas emitted from wastewater treatment, as well as natural systems, as a result of biological nitrification and denitrification. While denitrifying bacteria can be a significant source of N2O, they can also reduce N2O to N2. More information on the kinetics of N2O formation and reduction by denitrifying bacteria is needed to predict and quantify their impact on N2O emissions. In this study, kinetic parameters were determined for Paracoccus pantotrophus, a common denitrifying bacterium. Parameters included the maximum specific reduction rates, q^, growth rates, μ ^, and yields, Y, for reduction of NO3 (nitrate) to nitrite (NO2 ), NO2 to N2O, and N2O to N2, with acetate as the electron donor. The q^ values were 2.9 gN gCOD−1 d−1 for NO3 to NO2 , 1.4 gN gCOD−1 d−1 for NO2 to N2O, and 5.3 gN gCOD−1 d−1 for N2O to N2. The μ ^ values were 2.7, 0.93, and 1.5 d−1, respectively. When N2O and NO3 were added concurrently, the apparent (extant) kinetics, q^ app, assuming reduction to N2, were 6.3 gCOD gCOD−1 d−1, compared to 5.4 gCOD gCOD−1 d−1 for NO3 as the sole added acceptor. The μ ^ app was 1.6 d−1, compared to 2.5 d−1 for NO3 alone. These results suggest that NO3 and N2O were reduced concurrently. Based on this research, denitrifying bacteria like P. pantotrophus may serve as a significant sink for N2O. With careful design and operation, treatment plants can use denitrifying bacteria to minimize N2O emissions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number85
JournalAMB Express
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Denitrification
  • Kinetics
  • Maximum specific reduction rates
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Paracoccus pantotrophus


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