APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Reduced nitrogen loss to the atmosphere during fertilization
- More sustainable and economically profitable agricultural practices
- Improved agricultural efficiency
Berkeley Lab’s Hans Carlson and Adam Deutschbauer have developed a technology to facilitate microbial nitrate reduction in nitrogen fertilizer to improve agricultural efficiency. The researchers designed a high-throughput assay to predict the effect of certain carbon sources and geochemically relevant inorganic compounds on nitrogen reduction.
Using microbial enrichment cultures, researchers tracked microbial growth after the addition of assorted carbon sources using optical density (OD) 600. Ammonium production, the last stage in nitrogen reduction, was also measured in these cultures by colorimetric assay. Carbon sources with a greater ammonium/OD ratio had a higher propensity for microbial nitrate reduction. Researchers also tested the effect of various serial dilutions of inorganic compounds in culture to determine the inhibitory potency of ammonium production and growth. Compounds with higher rates of ammonium to growth inhibitory potency showed increased levels of ammonium production.
Nitrogen-based products are currently being used in agricultural soils in the form of fertilizer, but much of the nitrogen in these fertilizers is lost to the atmosphere as gaseous end products and inorganic waste due to runoff into water systems. Altering the end products of microbial nitrate reduction could improve agricultural efficiency and lead to more sustainable and economically profitable agricultural practices.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle.
STATUS: Published U.S. Patent Application 15/687,380 (Publication 2018/0057417). Available for licensing or collaborative research.
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