Plants & GHGs

The NZAGRC’s former nitrous oxide and soil carbon work streams were combined into one programme this year. This ensures a strong overall framework, closer communication and full GHG analyses across the programme. The programme focusses on three key areas:

1. Identifying and prioritising plant traits for low GHG emissions;

2. Mitigation practices to maintain soil carbon and reduce nitrous oxide emissions at paddock scale; and

3. Defining the achievable soil carbon stabilisation capacity of New Zealand grassland soils.

Current progress and research stories

Bacteria on leaves: a previously unrecognised source of N2O in grazed pastures

Bowatte, S., P. C. D. Newton, et al. (2015). "Bacteria on leaves: a previously unrecognised source of N2O in grazed pastures." ISME J 9(1): 265-267.


Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from grazed pastures are a product of microbial transformations of nitrogen and the prevailing view is that these only occur in the soil. Here we show this is not the case. We have found ammonia-oxidising bacteria (AOB) are present on plant leaves where they produce N2O just as in soil. AOB (Nitrosospira sp. predominantly) on the pasture grass Lolium perenne converted 0.02-0.42% (mean 0.12%) of the oxidised ammonia to N2O. As we have found AOB to be ubiquitous on grasses sampled from urine patches, we propose a /`plant/' source of N2O may be a feature of grazed grassland.

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