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Meritxell Grau Butinyac

Project Title: Effect of soil pH on soil microbial community structure and nitrogen cycling  

Overview: Nitrogen applied to agricultural soils in excess can be lost through gas forms. Reducing emissions of potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O) is of critical importance towards sustainable agriculture and climate change mitigation. Microbial communities in soil drive N transformations. As such, an understanding of the soil, climatic and edaphic factors impacting microbial community structure and activity is essential for predicting and mitigating N2O production. Inorganic N in soil can stimulate microbial communities to carry out denitrification, an anaerobic respiratory pathway where N2O is an intermediate product. Soil pH strongly impacts the microbial community structure and has a direct effect on denitrifying communities as NosZ, the enzyme catalysing N2O reduction, is pH sensitive. We would expect that microbial communities in acidic soils have a decreased capacity to mitigate N2O emissions. Understanding the link between microbial communities, N2O production and soil pH can inform agricultural management to reduce emissions from fields.

Programme Area: CELUP

Supervisors: Fiona Brennan, Karl Richards and Vincent O’Flaherty

Location: Teagasc, Johnstown Castle, Wexford

Funding Source: FACCE-ERA GAS and DAFM