Plants Not Guilty of Methane Emissions, Study Reports

London, UK (January 13, 2009)- A study released by Proceedings of the Royal Society found that plants are not capable of producing methane. In the report, team leader Dr. Ellen Nisbet directly challenges a separate 2006 report which asserts that not only are plants capable of producing methane, but they are likely contributing 10 to 45 percent of global methane emissions.


In Nisbet’s study, researchers grew several different varieties of plants, including maize and rice, in media that contained no organic material, thereby eliminating the chances of methane being formed through decay in soil. They found during these experiments, conducted in closed chambers, that the plants produced no methane at all.
Nisbet’s findings suggest alternative reasons for attributing methane emissions to plants, including the possibility that unnaturally high levels of UV or temperature exposure may lead to spontaneous plant breakdown which results in methane emissions, or that plants take up and transpire water containing dissolved methane, leading to the observation that methane is released. “I think this does tell us that the vast majority of methane emitted in normal growth conditions is explained by the absorption of methane in the soil water,” said Dr Nisbet.
Related Resources:
BBC News- Challenge to plant methane link
Science Alert- Plants not guilty of methane release