The reductase enzymes in Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter were studied under anaerobic conditions when the oxidase enzymes were inactive. The most effective electron-donor systems for nitrate reductase in Nitrobacter were reduced benzyl viologen alone, phenazine methosulphate with either NADH or NADPH, and FMN or FAD with NADH. Nitrite and hydroxylamine reductases were found in both nitrifying bacteria, and optimum activity for each enzyme was obtained with NADH or NADPH with either FMN or FAD. The product of both these enzymes was identified as ammonia. In extracts of Nitrosomonas the ammonia was further utilized by an NADPH-specific glutamate dehydrogenase. 15N-labelled nitrite, hydroxylamine and ammonia were rapidly incorporated into cell protein by Nitrosomonas, and Nitrobacter in addition incorporated [15N]nitrate. Relatively gentle methods of cell disruption were compared with ultrasonic treatment, to enable a more exact study to be undertaken of the intracellular distribution of the oxidase and reductase enzymes. The functional relationship of these opposing enzyme systems in the nitrifying bacteria is considered.

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