Atmospheric Science

Sourcing Methane

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Science  11 May 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5826, pp. 799
DOI: 10.1126/science.316.5826.799b

Methane is a powerful trace greenhouse gas, second in importance only to carbon dioxide, and exerts an important influence on climate and atmospheric chemistry. Both anthropogenic and natural sources contribute substantially to the global methane budget. Recently, Keppler et al. claimed that terrestrial plants could produce large amounts of methane in aerobic conditions, an unexpected finding that, if true, would necessitate a major revision of our understanding of the methane cycle. Dueck et al. measured aerobic methane emissions from six different terrestrial plant species by employing a carbon-isotopic labeling technique for quantification. They found no evidence for substantial methane emission in any of the species, either instantaneously by continuous flow measurements or over the course of 6 days. They thus concluded that terrestrial plants are not an important source of aerobically produced methane on a global scale. — HJS

Nature 439, 187 (2006); New Phytol. 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2007.02103.x (2007).

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