As humans, the weather we live in influences our energy consumption. In climates where the weather changes from hot summers to very cold winters, humans use more energy because the body has to work harder to maintain temperature.
Likewise, weather conditions influence microbes such as bacteria and fungi in the soil. Seasonal fluctuations in soil temperature and moisture impact microbial activities which in turn impact soil carbon emissions and nutrient cycling.
Microbes consume carbon for energy. As microbes increase in quantity and activity, they consume more carbon, resulting in more carbon emissions and vice versa.
In a modeling study published in Biology of global change on May 10, ecologists at San Diego State University discovered that this microbial seasonality has a significant impact on global carbon emissions and acts as a fundamental mechanism that regulates terrestrial-climate interactions and soil biogeochemistry. underground.
“When microbial colonies in the soil are in a productive phase, increasing in number and size, they will need more carbon to fuel their growth,” said Xiaofeng Xu, global change ecologist and lead author. “When we manipulated the amounts and activities of soil microbes in simulations and observed the reciprocal changes in soil carbon, we found that when the seasonal variation was suppressed, microbial respiratory rates decreased.
By keeping the microbial population at a constant average level, carbon emissions can be reduced.
Guardians of the earth could seek to reduce fluctuations in the soil microbial population by reducing tillage and other management practices to reduce soil carbon emissions, the researchers said. It can also help scientists and agricultural producers maintain soil fertility
Using a microbial modeling framework – CLM-Microbe (Community Land Model) – developed in the modeling and ecological integration laboratory of the SDSU, where he studies the impact of climate change on the terrestrial carbon cycle – Xu and his colleagues deployed the model on an SDSU supercomputer. to come to this conclusion.
“We know that soil microbes drive the flow of carbon – the amount of carbon exchanged between the land, the ocean and the atmosphere – by producing enzymes that impact the flow of carbon,” Xu said. “Soil carbon completes its cycle with the help of these microbes who have a hand in the ultimate control of carbon.”
Different soil microbial groups play different roles in the carbon cycle.
“The model’s ability to simulate bacterial and fungal dynamics improves our understanding of the impact of the soil microbial community on the carbon cycle,” said Liyuan He, lead author and doctoral student at SDSU.
This discovery advances the microbial ecology of soil and shows the ecological importance of microbial seasonality and our understanding of carbon storage in soil under changing climatic conditions.
The authors modeled and validated the observed carbon fluxes at the scale of an individual plot in nine natural biomes, including tropical / subtropical forest, temperate coniferous forest, temperate deciduous forest, boreal forest, bush, grassland, desert, tundra and wetlands.
“This study demonstrates the need to incorporate microbial seasonality into models of the Earth system so that we can better predict climate-carbon interactions,” said Chun-Ta Lai, co-author and ecosystem ecologist at SDSU.
Next, researchers will explore microbial seasonality and its impact on the global carbon balance, given the dynamics of land use change around the world.
SDSU researchers also collaborated with senior scientist Melanie Mayes of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, and meteorologist Shohei Murayama with Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.
Sources of funding for the study included the US Department of Energy’s Biological and Environmental Research Program and the CSU Biotechnology Education and Research Program.
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Material provided by San Diego State University. Original written by Padma Nagappan. Note: Content can be changed for style and length.