Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair

Pamela Twigg

Committee Member

Robert McFeeters

Committee Member

Upendra Singh


Nitrification, Leaching, Nitrogen fertilizers, Plant-soil relationships, Nitrogen cycle, Soils--Nitrogen content, Plants (Effect of nitrogen on), Oxidoreductases


According to the United Nations, the world population reached the 7 billion mark in 2011 and is anticipated to climb to 8 billion by 2025. All of these people need food, but many do not get enough. To resolve this critical issue, there is a great need to increase food production. The use of fertilizers is one of the more feasible ways to achieve this; however, nitrogen efficiency is notoriously low, with nitrification--the conversion of ammonium to nitrate--being one reason. Nitrification occurs naturally in the soil; and, once nitrate is formed, the probability for losses increases greatly. Among these losses are nitrate leaching into the water system and the formation of greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide. Nitrification inhibitors allow for ammonium to remain in the soil longer, providing more time for plant uptake. An enzymatic assay for nitrification inhibitors has been developed in hope of streamlining the discovery process. An improved methodology for discovering novel nitrification inhibitors is also discussed.



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