Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Environmental Analysis
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Invasive Plants Can Accelerate Global Warming

Published: Thursday, July 03, 2014
Last Updated: Thursday, July 03, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Research from Clemson University sheds new light on how invasion by exotic plant species affects the ability of soil to store greenhouse gases.

In a paper published in the scientific journal New Phytologist, plant ecologist Nishanth Tharayil and graduate student Mioko Tamura show that invasive plants can accelerate the greenhouse effect by releasing carbon stored in soil into the atmosphere. The research could have far-reaching implications for how we manage agricultural land and native ecosystems.

Since soil stores more carbon than both the atmosphere and terrestrial vegetation combined, the repercussions for how we manage agricultural land and ecosystems to facilitate the storage of carbon could be dramatic.

In their study, Tamura and Tharayil examined the impact of encroachment of Japanese knotweed and kudzu, two of North America’s most widespread invasive plants, on the soil carbon storage in native ecosystems.

They found that kudzu invasion released carbon that was stored in native soils, while the carbon amassed in soils invaded by knotweed is more prone to oxidation and is subsequently lost to the atmosphere.

The key seems to be how plant litter chemistry regulates the soil biological activity that facilitates the buildup, composition and stability of carbon-trapping organic matter in soil.

“Our findings highlight the capacity of invasive plants to effect climate change by destabilizing the carbon pool in soil and shows that invasive plants can have profound influence on our understanding to manage land in a way that mitigates carbon emissions,” Tharayil said.

Tharayil estimates that kudzu invasion results in the release of 4.8 metric tons of carbon annually, equal to the amount of carbon stored in 11.8 million acres of U.S. forest.

This is the same amount of carbon emitted annually by consuming 540 million gallons of gasoline or burning 5.1 billion pounds of coal.

“Climate change is causing massive range expansion of many exotic and invasive plant species. As the climate warms, kudzu will continue to invade northern ecosystems, and its impact on carbon emissions will grow,” Tharayil said.

The findings provide particular insight into agricultural land-management strategies and suggest that it is the chemistry of plant biomass added to soil rather than the total amount of biomass that has the greatest influence on the ability of soil to harbor stable carbon.

“Our study indicates that incorporating legumes such as beans, peas, soybeans, peanuts and lentils that have a higher proportion of nitrogen in its biomass can accelerate the storage of carbon in soils,” Tharayil said.

Thrarayil’s lab is following up this research to gain a deeper understanding of soil carbon storage and invasion.

Tharayil leads a laboratory and research team at Clemson that studies how the chemical and biological interactions that take place in the plant-soil interface shape plant communities. He is also the director of Clemson’s Multi-User Analytical Laboratory, which provides researchers with access to highly specialized laboratory instruments.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,700+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Scientific News
First Results Describing Sick Sea Star Immune Response
Though millions of sea stars along the West Coast have perished in the past several years from an apparent wasting disease, scientists still don’t know why.
Microbe Sleuth
Tanja Bosak examines how life and the Earth evolved in tandem during their early history together.
The Age of Humans Controlling Microbes
Engineered bacteria could soon be used to detect environmental toxins, treat diseases, and sustainably produce chemicals and fuels.
Messing With The Monsoon
Manmade aerosols can alter rainfall in the world’s most populous region.
Plastic for Dinner
Roughly a quarter of the fish sampled from fish markets in California and Indonesia contained man-made debris according to a study from the University of California, Davis, and Hasanuddin University in Indonesia.
Seeking “Gold Standard” Wastewater Treatments
Metagenomic analyses lend insights into how microbes break down wastewater contaminants.
Preventing Drinking Water Contamination by Pharmaceuticals
In recent years, researchers have realized that many products, including pharmaceuticals, have ended up where they’re not supposed to be — in our drinking water.
Low-level Arsenic Exposure Before Birth Associated with Early Puberty in Female Mice
Study examine whether low-dose arsenic exposure could have similar health outcomes in humans.
Intensity of Desert Storms May Affect Ocean Phytoplankton
MIT study finds phytoplankton are extremely sensitive to changing levels of desert dust.
Determination of Phosphate in Soil Extracts in the Field: A Green Chemistry Enzymatic Method
New method for phosphate determination which can be carried out in the field to obtain results on the spot.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,700+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos