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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

A low-methane rice with high-yield potential realized via optimized carbon partitioning

Hu, Jia; Bettembourg, Mathilde; Xue, Lihong; Hu, Ronggui; Schnurer, Anna; Sun, Chuanxin; Jin, Yunkai; Sundstrom, Jens F.

Abstract

Global rice cultivation significantly contributes to anthropogenic methane emissions. The methane emissions are caused by methane-producing microorganisms (methanogenic archaea) that are favoured by the anoxic conditions of paddy soils and small carbon molecules released from rice roots. However, different rice cultivars are associated with differences in methane emission rates suggesting that there is a considerable natural variation in this trait. Starting from the hypothesis that sugar allocation within a plant is an important factor influencing both yields and methane emissions, the aim of this study was to produce high-yielding rice lines associated with low methane emissions. In this study, the offspring (here termed progeny lines) of crosses between a newly characterized low-methane rice variety, Heijing 5, and three high-yielding elite varieties, Xiushui, Huayu and Jiahua, were selected for combined low-methane and high-yield properties. Analyses of total organic carbon and carbohydrates showed that the progeny lines stored more carbon in above-ground tissues than the maternal elite varieties. Also, metabolomic analysis of rhizospheric soil surrounding the progeny lines showed reduced levels of glucose and other carbohydrates. The carbon allocation, from roots to shoots, was further supported by a transcriptome analysis using massively parallel sequencing of mRNAs that demonstrated elevated expression of the sugar transporters SUT-C and SWEET in the progeny lines as compared to the parental varieties. Furthermore, measurement of methane emissions from plants, grown in greenhouse as well as outdoor rice paddies, showed a reduction in methane emissions by approximately 70 % in the progeny lines compared to the maternal elite varieties. Taken together, we report here on three independent low -methane -emission rice lines with high yield potential. We also provide a first molecular characterisation of the progeny lines that can serve as a foundation for further studies of candidate genes involved in sugar allocation and reduced methane emissions from rice cultivation.

Keywords

Global warming; Rice cultivars; Carbon partitioning; Methane emission; Agronomic practices; Root exudates

Published in

Science of the Total Environment
2024, Volume: 920, article number: 170980Publisher: ELSEVIER