In the last years, great attention has been directed to potential problems caused by the "greenhouse effect". Man, through industrial activities, fossil fuel consumption, forest destruction, and adoption of some agronomic practices, has been the main responsible for such phenomenon. The main gases that cause the greenhouse effect are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Methane stands out amongst them by the amount produced and by its activity in the absorbing atmospheric heat. The main methane producing sources are soils naturally flooded or cultivated under flooding conditions, which represent approximately 40% of the total methane emitted; from this amount, 37% is emitted by rice cultivated under flooding conditions. In this context, the present review has as main purposes to describe processes responsible for methane production and emission, as well as to discuss management practices and rice plant characteristics which affect emission of this gas. From the total methane originated in rice fields during its growth cycle, between 60 to 90% comes from rice plants. Although methane is not the main gas responsible for the greenhouse effect and rice crop does not represent the main methane source, the reduction in the emission could be accomplished through changes in rice cultural practices. Amongst alternatives that can be worked out are management of irrigation water and fertilizer applied, and cropping of rice cultivars that present lower number of aerenchyma and lower biomass production, whereas maintaining rice grain yields potential.
Oryza sativa; greenhouse effect; rice cultivars; plant characteristics