Document Type


Publication Date



Additions of ammonium and non-ammonium salts inhibit atmospheric methane consumption by soil at salt concentrations that do not significantly affect the soil water potential. The response of soils to non-ammonium salts has previously raised questions about the mechanism of ammonium inhibition. Results presented here show that inhibition of methane consumption by non-ammonium salts can be explained in part by ion-exchange reactions: cations desorb ammonium, with the level of desorption varying as a function of both the cation and anion added; differential desorption results in differential inhibition levels. Differences in the extent of inhibition among ammonium salts can also be explained in part by the effects of anions on ammonium exchange. In contrast, only minimal effects of cations and anions are observed in liquid cultures of Methylosinus trichosporium OB3b. The comparable level of inhibition by equinormal concentrations of NH4Cl and (NH4)2SO4 and the insensitivity of salt inhibition to increasing methane concentrations (from 10 to 100 ppm) are of particular interest, since both of these patterns are in contrast to results for soils. The greater inhibition of methane consumption for NH4Cl than (NH4)2SO4 in soils can be attributed to increased ammonium adsorption by sulfate; increasing inhibition by non-ammonium salts with increasing methane concentrations can be attributed to desorbed ammonium and a physiological mechanism proposed previously for pure cultures.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Applied and Environmental Microbiology

First Page


Last Page