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Belowground plant allocation regulates rice methane emissions from degraded peat soils


Sriskandarajah, Nijanthini; Wüst-Galley, Chloé; Heller, Sandra; Leifeld, Jens; Määttä, Tiia; Ouyang, Zutao; Runkle, Benjamin R K; Schiedung, Marcus; Schmidt, Michael W I; Tumber-Dávila, Shersingh Joseph; Malhotra, Avni (2024). Belowground plant allocation regulates rice methane emissions from degraded peat soils. Scientific Reports, 14(1):14593.

Abstract

Carbon-rich peat soils have been drained and used extensively for agriculture throughout human history, leading to significant losses of their soil carbon. One solution for rewetting degraded peat is wet crop cultivation. Crops such as rice, which can grow in water-saturated conditions, could enable agricultural production to be maintained whilst reducing CO$_{2}$ and N$_{2}$O emissions from peat. However, wet rice cultivation can release considerable methane (CH$_{4}$). Water table and soil management strategies may enhance rice yield and minimize CH$_{4}$ emissions, but they also influence plant biomass allocation strategies. It remains unclear how water and soil management influences rice allocation strategies and how changing plant allocation and associated traits, particularly belowground, influence CH$_{4}$-related processes. We examined belowground biomass (BGB), aboveground biomass (AGB), belowground:aboveground ratio (BGB:ABG), and a range of root traits (root length, root diameter, root volume, root area, and specific root length) under different soil and water treatments; and evaluated plant trait linkages to CH$_{4}$. Rice (Oryza sativa L.) was grown for six months in field mesocosms under high (saturated) or low water table treatments, and in either degraded peat soil or degraded peat covered with mineral soil. We found that BGB and BGB:AGB were lowest in water saturated conditions where mineral soil had been added to the peat, and highest in low-water table peat soils. Furthermore, CH$_{4}$ and BGB were positively related, with BGB explaining 60% of the variation in CH$_{4}$ but only under low water table conditions. Our results suggest that a mix of low water table and mineral soil addition could minimize belowground plant allocation in rice, which could further lower CH$_{4}$ likely because root-derived carbon is a key substrate for methanogenesis. Minimizing root allocation, in conjunction with water and soil management, could be explored as a strategy for lowering CH$_{4}$ emissions from wet rice cultivation in degraded peatlands.

Abstract

Carbon-rich peat soils have been drained and used extensively for agriculture throughout human history, leading to significant losses of their soil carbon. One solution for rewetting degraded peat is wet crop cultivation. Crops such as rice, which can grow in water-saturated conditions, could enable agricultural production to be maintained whilst reducing CO$_{2}$ and N$_{2}$O emissions from peat. However, wet rice cultivation can release considerable methane (CH$_{4}$). Water table and soil management strategies may enhance rice yield and minimize CH$_{4}$ emissions, but they also influence plant biomass allocation strategies. It remains unclear how water and soil management influences rice allocation strategies and how changing plant allocation and associated traits, particularly belowground, influence CH$_{4}$-related processes. We examined belowground biomass (BGB), aboveground biomass (AGB), belowground:aboveground ratio (BGB:ABG), and a range of root traits (root length, root diameter, root volume, root area, and specific root length) under different soil and water treatments; and evaluated plant trait linkages to CH$_{4}$. Rice (Oryza sativa L.) was grown for six months in field mesocosms under high (saturated) or low water table treatments, and in either degraded peat soil or degraded peat covered with mineral soil. We found that BGB and BGB:AGB were lowest in water saturated conditions where mineral soil had been added to the peat, and highest in low-water table peat soils. Furthermore, CH$_{4}$ and BGB were positively related, with BGB explaining 60% of the variation in CH$_{4}$ but only under low water table conditions. Our results suggest that a mix of low water table and mineral soil addition could minimize belowground plant allocation in rice, which could further lower CH$_{4}$ likely because root-derived carbon is a key substrate for methanogenesis. Minimizing root allocation, in conjunction with water and soil management, could be explored as a strategy for lowering CH$_{4}$ emissions from wet rice cultivation in degraded peatlands.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Multidisciplinary
Language:English
Date:25 June 2024
Deposited On:03 Jul 2024 13:52
Last Modified:04 Jul 2024 20:00
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2045-2322
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-024-64616-1
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)