From 2005 onwards, satellite-based observations found elevated levels of methane (CH4) in the atmosphere above evergreen forests in tropical regions.
Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, and intense research effort went into trying to discover the source. Because methane degrades relatively rapidly* in the atmosphere, it's clear that there must be some local production mechanism.
It was suggested that the methane might be being produced by some process involving the plants themselves. (Other known sources for methane production are all anaerobic - i.e. do not occur in the presence of oxygen).
Various explanations were proposed, and many lab tests were carried out on plant specimens - some showing positive results for methane production (in the presence of UV light), others failing to find any.
To date, there is still no agreed explanation for the findings.
The scale of the methane production is also disputed. Some research groups asserting that the effect accounts for as much as 30% of methane in the atmosphere - others claiming the entire subject is the result of erroneous measurements.
See : Wikipedia
* Note : Atmospheric methane typically degrades in about 9 - 12 years, producing another greenhouse gas, CO2 in the process.
Also see :
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