The oxidation of methyl bromide (MeBr) in the water column of Mono Lake, CA, was studied by measuring the formation of H14CO3 from [14C]MeBr. Potential oxidation was detected throughout the water column, with highest rates occurring in the epilimnion (5-12 m depth). The oxidation of MeBr was eliminated by filter-sterilization, thereby demonstrating the involvement of bacteria. Vertical profiles of MeBr activity differed from those obtained for nitrification and methane oxidation, indicating that MeBr oxidation is not simply a co-oxidation process by either nitrifiers or methanotrophs. Furthermore, specific inhibitors of methane oxidation and/or nitrification (e.g., methyl fluoride, acetylene, allyl sulfide) had no effect upon the rate of MeBr oxidation in live samples. Of a variety of potential electron donors added to Mono Lake water, only trimethylamine resulted in the stimulation of MeBr oxidation. Cumulatively, these results suggest that the oxidation of MeBr in Mono Lake waters is attributable to trimethylamine-degrading methylotrophs. Neither methyl chloride nor methanol inhibited the oxidation of [14C]MeBr in live samples, indicating that these bacteria directly oxidized MeBr rather than the products of MeBr nucleophilic substitution reactions.
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Bacterial oxidation of methyl bromide in Mono Lake, California