According to the sources, the creation of a new kind of rice variety which gives off nearly zero greenhouse gas emissions during its growth has earned kudos for a team of scientists from three continents, including the lead investigator at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The new kind of rice grows in a manner that nearly eliminates the production of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. It has been stated that rice is a big source of methane and according to estimation it is somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 to 15 percent of global methane emissions come from rice paddies around the world. Methane is about 20 times more efficient at trapping heat in atmosphere than its better-known counterpart such as carbon dioxide, making the team’s contribution especially important for climate issues.
PNNL scientist Christer Jansson led the team. He is a director of plant sciences at EMSL, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, and a DOE user facility at PNNL. For more than a decade it has worked closely with Chuanxin Sun of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, who has contributed significantly to the research on rice. To create the new variety of rice, the team identified a gene in barley that directs how that plant uses carbon, and then spliced that gene into common rice. The change redirected the way the rice plant uses the carbon it pulls from the atmosphere, causing the plant to send more carbon into the plant’s grain and stems and less into its roots. That change increases the amount of starch and the yield of rice and reduces the carbon available to the roots, where bacteria convert much of the substance into methane.
Further, Jansson’s work mostly focuses on understanding how plants absorb light and tap water and carbon to carry out photosynthesis. The work is central to scientists who investigate “bioenergy,” which involves creating or tapping biological materials for energy. Jansson has also worked with crops like sorghum, rice and tobacco to discover new ways to create plants that offer novel energy traits.