Methyl bromide (MeBr) was anaerobically degraded in saltmarsh sediments after reaction with sulfide. The product of this nucleophilic substitution reaction was methanethiol, which underwent further chemical and bacterial reactions to form dimethyl sulfide. These two gases appeared transiently during sediment incubations because they were metabolized by methanogenic and sulfate-reducing bacteria. A second, less significant reaction of MeBr was the exchange with chloride, forming methyl chloride, which was also susceptible to attack by sulfide. Incubation of 14C-labeled methyl iodide as an analogue of MeBr resulted in the formation of 14CH4 and 14CO2 and also indicated that sulfate-reducing bacteria as well as methanogens metabolized the methylated sulfur intermediates. These results suggest that exposed sediments with abundant free sulfide, such as coastal salt-marshes, may constitute a sink for atmospheric MeBr.
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Degradation of methyl bromide in anaerobic sediments