Life on N2O: On the ecophysiology on nitrous oxide reduction & its potential as a greenhouse gas sink in wastewater treatment

Monica Conthe Calvo

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

167 Downloads (Pure)


With its rapidly rising concentration in the atmosphere and its high global warming potential, N2O is arguably the greenhouse gas of the 21st century. The research carried out within the Nitrous Oxide Research Alliance (NORA) – of which this thesis forms part of – focused on the microbial conversions of N2O within the nitrogen cycle, the ultimate aim being to develop N2O mitigation strategies for natural and managed ecosystems such as agricultural soils and wastewater treatment plants. A variety of pathways in the nitrogen cycle produce N2O, but respiratory N2O reduction to N2 by microorganisms harboring an N2O reductase enzyme (encoded by the gene nosZ), is the only known microbial conversion that consumes N2O. N2O-respiring microorganisms may thus be key in this endeavour. Studies in literature reporting the cultivation of denitrifying bacteria with N2O as a sole electron acceptor date back to the 1950s and in recent years, there have been important discoveries of novel groups of denitrifying and non-denitrifying N2O reducing bacteria and archaea, and their importance for N2O reduction in the environment. Nevertheless, essential aspects of N2O reduction remain unclear and the aim of this thesis was to fill in some of the existing knowledge gaps regarding N2O-reducer ecophysiology, using wastewater treatment as a frame of reference. Our main approach was to study simplified, naturally selected, N2O reducing bacterial communities in chemostat enrichment cultures fed with N2O as the sole electron acceptor and acetate as electron donor. Continuous cultivation, which selects for a fairly simple community, is ideal for ecophysiology studies as it bridges the gap between ecosystem studies and pure culture work. Furthermore, it allows for cultivation under constant and limiting conditions...
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • van Loosdrecht, M.C.M., Supervisor
  • Kleerebezem, R., Advisor
Award date11 Dec 2018
Print ISBNs978-94-6375-222-0
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Life on N2O: On the ecophysiology on nitrous oxide reduction & its potential as a greenhouse gas sink in wastewater treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this