Posted in | Global Warming

Researchers Discover Decomposition Mechanism of Greenhouse Gas Nitrous Oxide

Scientists from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, University of Freiburg and the University of Konstanz have discovered the structure and decomposition mechanism of the N2O-reductase enzyme used in the decomposition of nitrous oxide.

During the study, the researchers observed that N2O-reductase enzyme has active centers featuring two sulfur atoms and four copper atoms. However, scientists across the world have presumed a single sulfur atom for the enzyme and they couldn’t fully discover the decomposition mechanism of nitrous oxide. The reaction chain of the enzyme can be reproduced effectively using the data of the new research.

Karlsruher Institute of Technology’s Walter G. Zumft stated that all the stages of the research study were conducted in the absence of oxygen. When it comes in contact with oxygen, the structure of the enzyme will be changed due to the reaction between its parts and oxygen. The researchers grew the bacteria under an oxygen-free condition and then isolated the enzymes on a huge scale and crystallized it. They then utilized X-rays to analyze the enzyme structure.

In 2010, Karlsruher Institute of Technology study revealed that animal husbandry may steer towards minimum nitrous oxide under specific conditions. Thorough knowledge of the microbial processes and their reliance on environmental conditions would assist in better modeling of the contribution of nitrous oxide to the environment. In future, it may be possible to implement the knowledge for the prevention of nitrous oxide release into the atmosphere by optimizing sewage treatment plant processes and incorporating additives in fertilizers that protect the performance of N2O-reductase.

Source: http://www.kit.edu

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