The biogeochemical controls of N2O production and emission in landfill cover soils: The role of methanotrophs in the nitrogen cycle

Kevin W. Mandernack, Chad A. Kinney, Dennis Coleman, Yong Song Huang, Katherine H. Freeman, Jean Bogner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Emissions of N2O from cover soils of both abandoned (> 30 years) and active landfills greatly exceed the maximum fluxes previously reported for tropical soils, suggesting high microbial activities for N2O production. Low soil matrix potentials (< -0.7 MPa) indicate that nitrification was the most likely mechanism of N2O formation during most of the time of sampling. Soil moisture had a strong influence on N20 emissions. The production of N20 was Stimulated by as much as 20 times during laboratory incubations, when moisture was increased from -2.0 MPa to -0.6 MPa. Additional evidence from incubation experiments and δ13C analyses of fatty acids (18:1) diagnostic of methanotrophs suggests that N2O is formed in these soils by nitrification via methanotrophic bacteria. In a NH3(g)-amended landfill soil, the rate of N2O production was significantly increased when incubated with 100 ppmv methane compared with 1.8 ppmv (atmospheric) methane. Preincubation of a landfill soil with 1% CH4 for 2 weeks resulted in higher rates of N2O production when subsequently amended with NH3(g) relative to a control soil preincubated without CH4. At one location, at the soil depth (9-16 cm) of maximum methane consumption and N2O production, we observe elevated concentrations of organic carbon and nitrogen and distinct minima in δ15N (+1.0‰) and δ13C (-33.8‰) values for organic nitrogen and organic carbon respectively. A δ13C value of -39.3‰ was measured for 18:1 carbon fatty acids in this soil, diagnostic of type II methanotrophs. The low δ15N value for organic nitrogen is consistent with N2 fixation by type II methanotrophs. These observations all point to a methanotrophic origin for the organic matter at this depth. The results of this study corroborate previous reports of methanotrophic nitrification and N2O formation in aqueous and soil environments and suggest a predominance of type II rather than type I or type X methanotrophs in this landfill soil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-309
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'The biogeochemical controls of N2O production and emission in landfill cover soils: The role of methanotrophs in the nitrogen cycle'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this