Isotope Effects Associated with N2O Production By Fungal and Bacterial Nitric Oxide Reductases: Implications for Tracing Microbial Production Pathways

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Nathaniel E Ostrom, Hui Yang, Hasand Gandhi and Eric L. Hegg, Michigan State Univ, East Lansing, MI, United States
Site preference (SP), the difference in δ15N between the central (α) and outer (β) N atoms in N2O, has emerged as a conservative tracer of microbial N2O production. The key advantages of SP relative to bulk isotopes are (1) that it is independent of the isotope composition of the substrates of nitrification and denitrification and (2) has not been shown to exhibit fractionation during production. In pure microbial culture distinct SP values for N2O production from bacterial denitrification, including nitrifier-denitrification (-10 to 0 ‰), relative to hydroxylamine oxidation and fungal denitrification (33-37 ‰) provide a promising basis to resolve production pathways. In this study, we determined the δ15N, δ18O, δ15Nα, and δ15Nβ of N2O generated by purified fungal (P450nor) and bacterial nitric oxide reductases. The isotope values were used to calculate SP values, enrichment factors (e), and kinetic isotope effects (KIEs). Both O and Nα displayed normal isotope effects during enzymatic NO reduction by the P450nor with e values of -25.7‰ (KIE = 1.0264) and -12.6‰ (KIE = 1.0127), respectively. However, bulk nitrogen (average δ15N of Nα and Nβ) and Nβ exhibited inverse isotope effects with e values of 14.0‰ (KIE = 0.9862) and 36.1‰ (KIE = 0.9651), respectively. The observed inverse isotope effect in δ15Nβ is consistent with reversible binding of the first NO in the P450nor reaction mechanism. Experiments with bacterial nitric oxide reductase are ongoing, however, preliminary data indicates a inverse isotope effect in the α and β positions and a normal isotope effect in δ18O. In contrast to the constant SP observed during N2O production observed in microbial cultures, the SP measured for purified P450nor was not constant, increasing from ~15‰ to ~29‰ during the course of the reaction. Our results clearly indicate that fractionation of SP during N2O production by P450nor is not zero, and that SP values higher and lower than the proposed end member value of 37‰ can be expected during fungal denitrification. The observation in pure microbial culture of constant SP can only be reconciled if the rate of nitrite and NO reduction are the same (thereby maintaining a steady NO concentration in the cell), and, further, that the magnitude of the P450nor NO binding constant (Kd) maintains the extent of the reaction (1-f) at 65%.