Nitrite production by in inorganic liquid medium containing ammonium was limited by reduction in pH. In the presence of montmorillonite and vermiculite, expanding clays with high cation-exchange-capacity (CEC), nitrite yield was increased, ammonia oxidation continued at pH values below those which inhibited growth in the absence of clays and growth was biphasic. The first phase was similar to that in the absence of clays, while the second was characterized by a lower rate of nitrite production. Illite, a non-expanding clay with low CEC, had no significant effect on ammonia oxidation, while oxidation of ammonia-treated vermiculite (ATV) occurred with no significant change in the pH of the medium. ATV, montmorillonite and vermiculite, but not illite, protected cells from inhibition by nitrapyrin at concentrations inhibitory to cells growing in suspended culture. This protection was maintained in ATV homo-ionic to Al, but montmorillonite made homo-ionic to Al did not provide protection from inhibition. Attachment of cells to clays with high CEC is therefore advantageous in providing exchange at the clay surface of NH and H produced by ammonia oxidation, in reducing pH toxicity, and in protecting cells from inhibition.


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