Current knowledge of denitrification is based on detailed studies of a limited number of organisms. In most cases the importance of these paradigm species in natural ecosystems is questionable. Detailed phenotypic studies of a wider range of prokaryotes, both type strains and dominant denitrifiers isolated from complex systems, will aid the generation of more sophisticated mathematical models for the prediction of NO and N2O emission to the environment. However, in order to facilitate the comparison of a vast range of prokaryotes, phenotypic experiments and functional characteristics included should be standardized. In the present paper, we discuss the term DRP (denitrification regulatory phenotype) for describing a set of phenotypic traits and experimental conditions for the characterization of denitrifying organisms. This is exemplified by the contrasting DRP characteristics of the two well-studied denitrifiers Paracoccus denitrificans and Agrobacterium tumefaciens.

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