The Missing News of the Missing Methane

Carl Zimmer in his always excellent blog, The Loom:

GrassHere’s a story that should be getting lots of press but apparently isn’t: a new study indicates that plants don’t release lots of methane gas.

You may perhaps recall a lot of attention paid to methane from plants back in January 2006. A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute reported in Nature that they had found evidence that plants release huge amounts of the gas–perhaps accounting for ten to thirty percent of all the methane found in the atmosphere.

The result was big news for several reasons. It was a surprise just in terms of basic biology–scientists have been studying the gases released by plants for a long time, and so it was surprising that they could have missed such a giant belch. Making the matter of pressing interest was methane’s ability to trap heat in the atmosphere. Suddenly plants became a much bigger player in the global warming game…

More here.