Strategy and tactics of disarming GHG at the source: N 2O reductase crops

Shen Wan, Tonya Lynn Ward, Illimar Altosaar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Nitrous oxide (N 2O), the third most abundant greenhouse gas (GHG), is highly stable and plays a significant role in stratospheric ozone destruction. The primary anthropogenic source of N 2O stems from use of nitrogen fertilizers in soil. The bacterial enzyme nitrous oxide reductase (N 2OR), naturally found in some soils, is the only known enzyme capable of catalyzing the final step of the denitrification pathway, conversion of N 2O to N 2. In this opinion, we discuss potential biology-based strategies to reduce N 2O by amplifying the amount of available enzyme catalyst in agri-system environments during crop growth and in post-harvest detritus. N 2OR from Pseudomonas stutzeri has been tested in transgenic plants with promising results. Such seed-borne phytoremediation systems targeted towards GHGs merit field testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-415
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in biotechnology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and its industrial and governmental partners through the Green Crop Network. G. Raby provided valuable context and perspectives on seed-borne environmental factors such as N 2 OR. We also thank our past and present research students who have contributed to the GHG mitigation program in our laboratories.

Copyright 2012 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • GM crops
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Heterologous expression
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Nitrous oxide reductase
  • Phytoremediation


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