Kirschbaum, M.U.F., Niinemets, U., Bruhn, D., Winters, A.J. (2007). How Important Is Aerobic Methane Release by Plants? Functional Plant Science and Biotechnology 1: 138-145.

Abstract. The first research paper describing aerobic methane release from living plants and dead organic matter was published in early 2006. These original findings have yet to be independently repeated and confirmed, and the only other detailed study that has been published did not find significant aerobic emissions of methane. Concerns remain about possible artefacts, especially with respect to methane adsorption and desorption. Several questions are yet to be answered, such as identification of a plausible biochemical mechanism for the process, how CH4 emissions might change with light, temperature or the physiological state of leaves, whether emissions change over time under constant conditions, whether they are related to photosynthesis and how they relate to the chemical composition of biomass. Various studies have assessed the likely magnitude of aerobic methane release within a global context. Different estimates based on more or less sophisticated approaches have all indicated that the magnitude of aerobic methane release must be relatively moderate and contribute between 0-10% of modern and 0-30% of pre-industrial/pre-agricultural methane emissions. In the context of land-use change, consideration of aerobic CH4 emissions from different plant types is only a small factor for overall greenhouse gas balances. Any carbon-offset benefit from planting trees is likely to be about 100 times as effective as any possible detrimental effect due to increased aerobic methane release. Land-use change, including the draining of wetlands, the establishment of paddy rice farming, or the introduction of ruminant animals, would produce emission changes that significantly outweigh any potential changes arising from differences in aerobic methane release by different plant types.


Keywords: adsorption, aerobic, climate-change mitigation, desorption, dissolution, global budget, Kyoto Protocol, land-use change, methane oxidation, trace gas

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