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Trifluoromethane (TFM) has been reported as an endproduct of trifluoroacetate degradation under oxic conditions. Although other halomethanes, such as chloroform, methyl bromide, and methyl fluoride, inhibit methane oxidation or are degraded by methanotrophs, the fate of TFM is unknown. TFM had no affect on atmospheric methane consumption when added to forest soils at either 10 ppm or 10,000 ppm. No degradation of TFM was observed at either concentration for incubations of 6 days. Cultures of Methylobacter albus BG8 and Methylosinus trichosporium OB3b grown with and without added copper were also used to assay TFM degradation at 10-10000 ppm levels. TFM did not inhibit methane oxidation under any growth conditions, including those inducing expression of soluble methane monooxygenase, nor was it degraded at measurable rates. In contrast, parallel assays showed that both methyl fluoride and chloroform inhibited methane oxidation in M. trichosporium OB3b. Our results suggest that TFM may be relatively inert with respect to methanotrophic degradation. Although TFM has a negligible ozone depletion potential, it absorbs infrared radiation and has a relatively long atmospheric residence time. Thus, accumulation of TFM in the atmosphere as a consequence of the decomposition of hydrochlorofluorocarbons may have significant unpredicted climate impacts.

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FEMS Microbiology Ecology

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