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Methane oxidation by pure cultures of the methanotrophs Methylobacter albus BG8 and Methylosinus trichosporium OB3b was inhibited by ammonium choride and sodium nitrite relative to that in cultures assayed in either nitrate-containing or nitrate-free medium. M. albus was generally more sensitive to ammonium and nitrite than M. trichosporium. Both species produced nitrite from ammonium; the concentrations of nitrite produced increased with increasing methane concentrations in the culture headspaces. Inhibition of methane oxidation by nitrite was inversely proportional to headspace methane concentrations, with only minimal effects observed at concentrations of >500 ppm in the presence of 250 μM nitrite. Inhibition increased with increasing ammonium at methane concentrations of 100 ppm. In the presence of 500 μM ammonium, inhibition increased initially with increasing methane concentrations from 1.7 to 100 ppm; the extent of inhibition decreased with methane concentrations of >100 ppm. The results of this study provide new insights that explain some of the previously observed interactions among ammonium, nitrite, methane, and methane oxidation in soils and aquatic systems.

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Applied and Environmental Microbiology

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