Microbial community composition controls the effects of climate change on methane emission from rice paddies


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Rice paddies are one of the most important sources of CH4 emission from the terrestrial ecosystem. A Free-air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) experiment, which included a soil warming treatment, was conducted in a rice paddy at Shizukuishi, Japan. In this study, the changes in CH4 emission from a rice paddy, caused by global climate change, were explored in relation to the structural changes that have occurred in the methanogenic archaeal communities found in the soil and roots. The composition of the archaeal community was examined by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) using the 16S rRNA gene, while its abundance was measured by real-time PCR using the methyl coenzyme M reductase (mcrA) gene. The archaeal community in the roots showed considerable change, characterized by the dominance of hydrogenotrophic methanogens and a corresponding decrease in acetoclastic methanogens. Seasonal changes in CH4 flux were closely related to the changes in methanogen abundance in the roots. Elevated CO2 caused an increase in root mass, which increased the abundance of methanogens leading to a rise in CH4 emissions. However, soil warming stimulated CH4 emissions by increasing CH4 production per individual methanogen. These results demonstrated that climate warming stimulates CH4 emission in a rice paddy by altering the abundance and activity of methanogenic archaea in the roots.