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Methane oxidation associated with the belowground tissues of a common aquatic macrophyte, the burweed Sparganium eurycarpum, was assayed in situ by a chamber technique with acetylene or methyl fluoride as a methanotrophic inhibitor at a headspace concentration of 3 to 4%. Acetylene and methyl fluoride inhibited both methane oxidation find peat methanogenesis. However, inhibition of methanogenesis resulted in no obvious short-term effect on methane fluxes. Since neither inhibitor adversely affected plant metabolism and both inhibited methanotrophy equally well, acetylene was employed for routine assays because of its low cost and ease of use. Root-associated methanotrophy consumed a variable but significant fraction of the total potential methane flux; values varied between 1 and 58% (mean ± standard deviation, 27.0% ± 6.0%) with no consistent temporal or spatial pattern daring late summer. The absolute amount of methane oxidized was not correlated with the total potential methane flux; this suggested that parameters other than methane availability (e.g., oxygen availability) controlled the rates of methane oxidation. Estimates of diffusive methane flux and oxidation at the peat surface indicated that methane emission occurred primarily through aboveground plant tissues; the absolute magnitude of methane oxidation was also greater in association with roots than at the peat surface. However, the relative extent of oxidation was greater at the latter locus.

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Applied and Environmental Microbiology

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