The effect of soil acidification on atmospheric methane uptake by a Maine forest soil

Julie Benstead, University of Maine
Gary M. King, Darling Marine Center


Soil from the zone of maximal methanotrophic activity (approximately 5-8 cm depth) in a mixed coniferous-hardwood forest consumed atmospheric methane over a wide pH range (3.5-7.5) with a broad optimum between 4.8 and 6.0. Methane uptake at native soil pH values (4.4-4.8) was only slightly less rapid than rates at optimal pH values. Addition of mineral acids to intact soil cores in pulsed applications decreased atmospheric methane consumption. The extent of inhibition varied with the type, concentration and volume of acid added: nitric acid was more inhibitory than sulfuric acid at an equivalent soil pH, and methane uptake decreased with increasing volumes and concentrations of added acid. Although ammonium chloride at 1 μmol g fresh weight (gfw) soil-1 inhibited methane uptake, the extent of inhibition did not vary significantly with decreasing soil pH below values of 4.4. © 2001 Federation of European Microbiological Societies.