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The relative importance of oxygen for root-associated methanotrophy was examined by using sediment-free, intact freshwater marsh plants (Pontederia cordata and Sparganium eurycarpum) incubated in split chambers. The root medium contained approximately 100 μM methane. Methane oxidation was calculated from the difference between methane loss from chambers in the presence and absence of 1 mM 1-allyl-2-thiourea, a methanotrophic inhibitor. When the root medium was oxic, methane oxidation accounted for 88 and 63% of the total methane depletion for S. eurycarpum and P. cordata, respectively; the remainder represented diffusional loss to the atmosphere via roots, stems, and leaves. Under suboxic conditions, methane oxidation was not detectable for S. eurycarpum but accounted for 68% of total methane depletion for P. cordura. The introduction of a biological oxygen sink, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, resulted in complete loss of methane oxidation in S. eurycarpum chambers under oxic conditions, while methane consumption continued (51.6% of total methane depletion) in P. cordata chambers. The differences between plant species were consistent with their relative ability to oxygenate their rhizospheres: during a suboxic incubation, dissolved oxygen decreased by 19% in S. eurycarpum chambers but increased by 232% for P. cordata. An in situ comparison also revealed greater methanotrophic activity for P. cordata than S. eurycarpum.

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Applied and Environmental Microbiology

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