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Rates of methane emission from intact cores were measured during anoxic dark and oxic light and dark incubations. Rates of methane oxidation were calculated on the basis of oxic incubations by using the anoxic emissions as an estimate of the maximum potential flux. This technique indicated that methane oxidation consumed up to 91% of the maximum potential flux in peat sediments but that oxidation was negligible in marl sediments. Oxygen microprofiles determined for intact cores were comparable to profiles measured in situ. Thus, the laboratory incubations appeared to provide a reasonable approximation of in situ activities. This was further supported by the agreement between measured methane fluxes and fluxes predicted on the basis of methane profiles determined by in situ sampling of pore water. Methane emissions from peat sediments, oxygen concentrations and penetration depths, and methane concentration profiles were all sensitive to light-dark shifts as determined by a combination of field and laboratory analyses. Methane emissions were lower and oxygen concentrations and penetration depths were higher under illuminated than under dark conditions; the profiles of methane concentration changed in correspondence to the changes in oxygen profiles, but the estimated flux of methane into the oxic zone changed negligibly. Sediment-free, root-associated methane oxidation showed a pattern similar to that for methane oxidation in the core analyses: no oxidation was detected for roots growing in marl sediment, even for roots of Cladium jamaicense, which had the highest activity for samples from peat sediments. The magnitude of the root-associated oxidation rates indicated that belowground plant surfaces may not markedly increase the total capacity for methane consumption. However, the data collectively support the notion that the distribution and activity of methane oxidation have a major impact on the magnitude of atmospheric fluxes from the Everglades.

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Applied and Environmental Microbiology

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