Bacterial oxidation of 14CH2Br2 and 14CH3Br was measured in freshwater, estuarine, seawater, and hypersaline-alkaline samples. In general, bacteria from the various sites oxidized similar amounts of 14CH2Br2 and comparatively less 14CH3Br. Bacterial oxidation of 14CH3Br was rapid in freshwater samples compared to bacterial oxidation of 14CH3Br in more saline waters. Freshwater was also the only site in which methyl fluoride-sensitive bacteria (e.g., methanotrophs or nitrifiers) governed brominated methane oxidation. Half-life calculations indicated that bacterial oxidation of CH2Br2 was potentially significant in all of the waters tested. In contrast, only in freshwater was bacterial oxidation of CH3Br as fast as chemical removal. The values calculated for more saline sites suggested that bacterial oxidation of CH3Br was relatively slow compared to chemical and physical loss mechanisms. However, enrichment cultures demonstrated that bacteria in seawater can rapidly oxidize brominated methanes. Two distinct cultures of nonmethanotrophic methylotrophs were recovered; one of these cultures was able to utilize CH2Br2 as a sole carbon source, and the other was able to utilize CH3Br as a sole carbon source.
Additional publication details
Bacterial oxidation of dibromomethane and methyl bromide in natural waters and enrichment cultures