Microorganisms' ability to adapt to climate change can help reduce global warming, claims study
Microorganisms' ability to adapt to the climate change can help reduce global warming by storing carbon in the soil, a recent study from Lund University in Sweden claims.
The researchers collected soil samples from across Europe in a wide range of temperatures, from minus 3.1 to 18.3 degrees Celsius. The samples unveiled microorganisms that are present in soil, such as bacteria and fungi, which are strongly adapted to their local climate for their growth and respiration.
The researchers also surprisingly demonstrated that the microorganisms can not only adapt to temperature changes but also benefit from them.
“Despite decades of scientific pondering, researchers have not been able to determine whether microorganisms can adapt to warming, and if they do. We can now confirm that this is the case, and that the organisms can actually mitigate climate warming,” says Carla Cruz Paredes, a biology researcher at Lund University.
Differences in microorganisms' temperature sensitivity can predict how global warming can affect soil
Published in the scientific journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, the new study also reveals that the groups of microorganisms react differently to warming.
Bacteria and fungi react differently when it comes to temperature change as bacteria is more sensitive than fungi.
The differences in the temperature sensitivity hold significance for predicting the carbon losses that are likely to happen in the future and the way the soil can be affected by global warming.
“The outcome of these varying sensitivities to growth and respiration at different temperatures, and between bacteria and fungi, will impact the carbon balance between the soil and the atmosphere, and thus the soil’s feedback on climate warming,” says Carla Cruz Paredes.
The study also emphasizes on the importance of correctly representing microbial responses to climate warming in models of soil carbon content. The research also indicates that ecological responses from the Earth's microorganisms will play a key role in regulating the planet's climate.
"Climate warming is one of the biggest threats to our environment. To mitigate global warming, it is necessary to enhance the soil’s ability to store or sequester carbon and reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere. This study is a step forward in providing better predictions for the assessments of the UN’s climate panel," says Carla Cruz Paredes.