Potential role of Thermus thermophilus and T. oshimai in high rates of nitrous oxide (N 2O) production in ~80°C hot springs in the US Great Basin

B. P. Hedlund, A. I. McDonald, J. Lam, J. A. Dodsworth, J. R. Brown, Bruce A Hungate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Ambient nitrous oxide (N 2O) emissions from Great Boiling Spring (GBS) in the US Great Basin depended on temperature, with the highest flux, 67.8±2.6μmol N 2O-Nm -2day -1, occurring in the large source pool at 82°C. This rate of N 2O production contrasted with negligible production from nearby soils and was similar to rates from soils and sediments impacted with agricultural fertilizers. To investigate the source of N 2O, a variety of approaches were used to enrich and isolate heterotrophic micro-organisms, and isolates were screened for nitrate reduction ability. Nitrate-respiring isolates were identified by 16S rRNA gene sequencing as Thermus thermophilus (31 isolates) and T. oshimai (three isolates). All isolates reduced nitrate to N 2O but not to dinitrogen and were unable to grow with N 2O as a terminal electron acceptor. Representative T. thermophilus and T. oshimai strains contained genes with 96-98% and 93% DNA identity, respectively, to the nitrate reductase catalytic subunit gene (narG) of T. thermophilus HB8. These data implicate T. thermophilus and T. oshimai in high flux of N 2O in GBS and raise questions about the genetic basis of the incomplete denitrification pathway in these organisms and on the fate of biogenic N 2O in geothermal environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)471-480
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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