Fungal denitrification revisited – Recent advancements and future opportunities

Nouf Aldossari, Satoshi Ishii

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Fungi play a key role in the nitrogen cycle. Diverse fungi are known to reduce nitrate or nitrite to gaseous nitrogen oxides such as nitric oxide, nitrous oxide (N2O), and dinitrogen via denitrification or co-denitrification (microbially mediated nitrosation), and to ammonium via ammonia fermentation (fungal dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium). These processes could significantly contribute to the emission of N2O from soils and the removal of nitrogen from nitrate and nitrite-contaminated environments. However, fungal N2O production may not be necessarily related to their denitrification activity sensu stricto (i.e., reduction of nitrate or nitrite to gaseous N oxides for respiration): N2O can be produced by partially abiotic processes. Therefore, fungi that can reduce nitrate or nitrite to N2O should not be called denitrifying fungi instantaneously. Experiments should be carefully conducted to better discriminate fungal denitrification, co-denitrification, and chemo-denitrification. Various analytical tools have been developed and applied to clarify fungal denitrification and other nitrate/nitrite reduction processes, including the substrate-induced respiration-inhibition method, stable isotope analyses, and culture-dependent and -independent molecular and genomic approaches. In this mini-review, we overview fungal denitrification and other nitrate/nitrite reduction processes, discuss their environmental impacts, summarize recent advancements in the methods to study fungal denitrification, and provide insights on future research opportunities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108250
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the MnDRIVE Initiative of the University of Minnesota . AD was supported by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission Scholarship and the Minnesota Mycological Society Scholarship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Ammonia fermentation
  • Chemodenitrification
  • Co-denitrification
  • Fungal denitrification
  • Nitrate reduction
  • Nitric oxide detoxification


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