Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Environment Remediation and Ecological Health, College of Environmental & Resource Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China. Electronic address: [Email]
Biochar has been demonstrated to reduce nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from soils, but its effect is highly soil-dependent. In particular, in soils with strong nitrification potential, biochar addition may increase N2O emissions. Thus, in soils with strong nitrification potential, the combination of biochar with the nitrification inhibitor 3,4-dimethylpyrazole phosphate (DMPP) may be more effective in reducing N2O emissions than biochar alone. However, the combined use of biochar and DMPP on soil N2O emissions is relatively unexplored, and underlying microbial mechanisms of how biochar and/or DMPP amendment affect N2O emissions is still largely unknown. Here, a 30-day incubation experiment was established with four treatments: CK (control), BC (biochar), DMPP, and BD (biochar and DMPP), all at agronomically recommended rates, and N cycling assessed following addition of urea. Treatment of soil with BC, DMPP and BD reduced N2O emissions (compared with urea alone) by 59.1%, 95.5% and 74.1%, respectively. Quantification of N cycling genes (amoA, nirS, nirK, and nosZ) indicated that biochar stimulated growth of ammonia oxidizing archaea (AOA) and bacteria (AOB), while DMPP alone inhibited the activity and growth of AOB. In the BD treatment, DMPP was absorbed onto biochar reducing its efficacy in inhibiting AOB growth. The response patterns of nirS/nirK nitrite-reducing denitrifiers to biochar and/or DMPP addition varied among clades. Notably, biochar and/or DMPP increased the abundance of nosZI and nosZII-N2O reducers, but nosZI-clade taxa were more closely associated with reducing N2O emission than nosZII taxa. Overall, our findings proved that the dynamics of AOB and nosZI-N2O reducers resulting from the addition of biochar and/or DMPP played a key role in governing soil N2O emissions.