Chloromethane Degradation in Soils: A Combined Microbial and Two-Dimensional Stable Isotope Approach.J Environ Qual 2018; 47(2):254-262JE
Chloromethane (CHCl, methyl chloride) is the most abundant volatile halocarbon in the atmosphere and involved in stratospheric ozone depletion. The global CHCl budget, and especially the CHCl sink from microbial degradation in soil, still involves large uncertainties. These may potentially be resolved by a combination of stable isotope analysis and bacterial diversity studies. We determined the stable isotope fractionation of CHCl hydrogen and carbon and investigated bacterial diversity during CHCl degradation in three soils with different properties (forest, grassland, and agricultural soils) and at different temperatures and headspace mixing ratios of CHCl. The extent of chloromethane degradation decreased in the order forest > grassland > agricultural soil. Rates ranged from 0.7 to 2.5 μg g dry wt. d for forest soil, from 0.1 to 0.9 μg g dry wt. d for grassland soil, and from 0.1 to 0.4 μg g dry wt. d for agricultural soil and increased with increasing temperature and CHCl supplementation. The measured mean stable hydrogen enrichment factor of CHCl of -50 ± 13‰ was unaffected by temperature, mixing ratio, or soil type. In contrast, the stable carbon enrichment factor depended on CHCl degradation rates and ranged from -38 to -11‰. Bacterial community composition correlated with soil properties was independent from CHCl degradation or isotope enrichment. Nevertheless, increased abundance after CHCl incubation was observed in 21 bacterial operational taxonomical units (OTUs at the 97% 16S RNA sequence identity level). This suggests that some of these bacterial taxa, although not previously associated with CHCl degradation, may play a role in the microbial CHCl sink in soil.