Acetylene inhibition technique underestimates in situ denitrification rates in intact cores of freshwater sediment


P. Frenzel, Fachbereich Biologie, Universität Konstanz, P.O. Box 5560, D-7750 Konstanz, F.R.G.


Abstract Denitrification in intact sediment cores was measured by the acetylene inhibition technique and compared with the nitrate flux between water and sediment. Less than half of the nitrate-N consumed by the sediment could be recovered as nitrous oxide-N. The low recovery rate of nitrous oxide from intact sediment cores indicated losses of nitrous oxide by diffusion down to nitrate-free sediment layers, where reduction of nitrous oxide may take place. In sediment slurries 100% of nitrate-N could be recovered as nitrous oxide-N as long as the nitrate concentration in the liquid phase was above 10 μM. Nitrous oxide added to nitrate-free sediment slurries was reduced regardless of whether acetylene was present or not. Therefore denitrification may be significantly underestimated by this method.