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CO, one of the most important trace gases, regulates tropospheric methane, hydroxyl radical, and ozone contents. Ten to 25% of the estimated global CO flux may be consumed by soils annually. Depth profiles for 14CO oxidation and CO concentration indicated that CO oxidation occurred primarily in surface soils and that photooxidation of soil organic matter did not necessarily contribute significantly to CO fluxes. Kinetic analyses revealed that the apparent K(m) was about 18 nM (17 ppm) and the V(max) was 6.9 μmol g (fresh weight)-1 h-1; the apparent K(m) was similar to the apparent K(m) for atmospheric methane consumption, but the V(max) was more than 100 times higher. Atmospheric CO oxidation responded sensitively to soil water regimes; decreases in water content in initially saturated soils resulted in increased uptake, and optimum uptake occurred at water contents of 30 to 60%. However, extended drying led to decreased uptake and net CO production. Rewetting could restore CO uptake, albeit with a pronounced hysteresis. The responses to changing temperatures indicated that the optimum temperature for net uptake was between 20 and 25°C and that there was a transition to net production at temperatures above 30°C. The responses to methyl fluoride and acetylene indicated that populations other than ammonia oxidizers and methanotrophs must be involved in forest soils. The response to acetylene was notable, since the strong initial inhibition was reversed after 12 h of incubation; in contrast, methyl fluoride did not have an inhibitory effect. Ammonium did not inhibit CO uptake; the level of nitrite inhibition was initially substantial, but nitrite inhibition was reversible over time. Nitrite inhibition appeared to occur through indirect effects based on abiological formation of NO.

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Applied and Environmental Microbiology

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