The biological importance of lanthanides has only recently been identified, initially as the active site metal of the alternative methanol dehydrogenase (MDH) Xox-MDH. So far, the effect of lanthanide (Ln) has only been studied in relatively few organisms. This work investigated the effects of Ln on gene transcription and protein expression in the facultative methanotroph Methylocella silvestris BL2, a widely distributed methane-oxidizing bacterium with the unique ability to grow not just on methane but also on other typical components of natural gas, ethane and propane. Expression of calcium- or Ln-dependent MDH was controlled by Ln (the lanthanide switch) during growth on one-, two- or three-carbon substrates, and Ln imparted a considerable advantage during growth on propane, a novel result extending the importance of Ln to consumers of this component of natural gas. Two Xox-MDHs were expressed and regulated by Ln in M. silvestris, but interestingly Ln repressed rather than induced expression of the second Xox-MDH. Despite the metabolic versatility of M. silvestris, no other alcohol dehydrogenases were expressed, and in double-mutant strains lacking genes encoding both Ca- and Ln-dependent MDHs (mxaF and xoxF5 or xoxF1), growth on methanol and ethanol appeared to be enabled by expression of the soluble methane monooxygenase.