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Methane Transport Capacity of Rice Plants. I. Influence of Methane Concentration and Growth Stage Analyzed with an Automated Measuring System

Abstract

A major portion (60–90%) of the methane (CH4) emitted from rice fields to the atmosphere is transported through the aerenchyma of the rice plants. However, a rapid and accurate method to study the CH4 transport capacity (MTC) of rice plants is not available. We developed a gas sampling and analytical device based on a closed two-compartment chamber technique and analyzed the enrichment of the CH4 mixing ratio inside the shoot compartment of cylindrical cuvettes enclosing individual rice plants under ambient conditions. The computer-controlled analytical system consists of a gas chromatograph (GC) and a pressure-controlled autosampler for eight cuvettes (seven for plants and one for CH4-calibration gas). The system automates closure and opening of plant cuvettes using pneumatic pressure, air sample collection and injection into the GC, and CH4 analysis. It minimizes sources of error during air sampling by continuously mixing headspace air of each cuvette, maintaining pressure and composition of the headspace inside the cuvettes, purging the dead volumes between the sampler induction tube and GC, and running a reference CH4-calibration gas sample in each cycle. Tests showed that the automated system is a useful tool for accurate sampling of headspace air of cylindrical cuvettes enclosing individual rice plants and enables rapid and accurate fully automated analysis of CH4 in the headspace air samples. A linear relationship was obtained between CH4 transported by rice plants of two cultivars (IR72, a high-yielding dwarf, and Dular, a traditional tall cultivar) and concentration of CH4 up to 7,500 ppm used for purging the nutrient culture solution surrounding the roots in the root compartment of the chamber. Further increase in CH4 emission by shoots was not observed at 10,000 ppm CH4 concentration in the root compartment of the chamber. The MTC of IR72 was measured at six development stages; it was lowest at seedling stage, increasing gradually until panicle initiation. There was no further change at flowering, but a marked decrease at maturity was noted. These results suggest that the plants have 45–246% greater potential to transport CH4 than the highest CH4 emission rates reported under field conditions, and plants would not emit CH4 at early growth and at a reduced rate close to ripening.

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Aulakh, M., Bodenbender, J., Wassmann, R. et al. Methane Transport Capacity of Rice Plants. I. Influence of Methane Concentration and Growth Stage Analyzed with an Automated Measuring System. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 58, 357–366 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1009831712602

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  • plant-mediated gas transfer
  • methane emissions
  • rice cultivars
  • rhizosphere
  • automated methane measurements
  • plant growth stages
  • global warming
  • greenhouse effects