Nature 439, 187-191 (12 January 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature04420; Received 14 July 2005; Accepted 3 November 2005
Methane emissions from terrestrial plants under aerobic conditions
Methane is an important greenhouse gas and its atmospheric concentration has almost tripled since pre-industrial times1, 2. It plays a central role in atmospheric oxidation chemistry and affects stratospheric ozone and water vapour levels. Most of the methane from natural sources in Earth's atmosphere is thought to originate from biological processes in anoxic environments2. Here we demonstrate using stable carbon isotopes that methane is readily formed in situ in terrestrial plants under oxic conditions by a hitherto unrecognized process. Significant methane emissions from both intact plants and detached leaves were observed during incubation experiments in the laboratory and in the field. If our measurements are typical for short-lived biomass and scaled on a global basis, we estimate a methane source strength of 62–236 Tg yr-1 for living plants and 1–7 Tg yr-1 for plant litter (1 Tg = 1012 g). We suggest that this newly identified source may have important implications for the global methane budget and may call for a reconsideration of the role of natural methane sources in past climate change.
- Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik, Saupfercheckweg 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
- Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland, Agriculture, Food and Environmental Science Division, Newforge Lane, Belfast BT9 5PX, UK
- Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht, Utrecht University, Princetonplein 5, 3508 TA, Utrecht, The Netherlands
MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS
These links to content published by NPG are automatically generated.
REVIEWSEarly language acquisition: cracking the speech code
Nature Reviews Neuroscience Review (01 Nov 2004)See all 6 matches for Reviews
NEWS AND VIEWSMaterials in Archaeology
Nature News and Views (14 Oct 1967)Global change A green source of surprise
Nature News and Views (12 Jan 2006)See all 12 matches for News And Views
RESEARCHKaryotyping human chromosomes by combinatorial multi-fluor FISH
Nature Genetics Article (01 Apr 1996)Changing boreal methane sources and constant biomass burning during the last termination
Nature Letters to Editor (17 Apr 2008)See all 45 matches for Research