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Title: Final Technical Report to DOE for the Award DE-SC0004601

Understanding the responses, adaptations and feedback mechanisms of biological communities to climate change is critical to project future state of earth and climate systems. Although significant amount of knowledge is available on the feedback responses of aboveground communities to climate change, little is known about the responses of belowground microbial communities due to the challenges in analyzing soil microbial community structure. Thus the goal overall goal of this study is to provide system-level, predictive mechanistic understanding of the temperature sensitivity of soil carbon (C) decomposition to climate warming by using cutting-edge integrated metagenomic technologies. Towards this goal, the following four objectives will be pursued: (i) To determine phylogenetic composition and metabolic diversity of microbial communities in the temperate grassland and tundra ecosystems; (ii) To delineate the responses of microbial community structure, functions and activities to climate change in the temperate grassland and tundra ecosystems; (iii) To determine the temperature sensitivity of microbial respiration in soils with different mixtures of labile versus recalcitrant C, and the underlying microbiological basis for temperature sensitivity of these pools; and (iv) To synthesize all experimental data for revealing microbial control of ecosystem carbon processes in responses to climate change. We have achieved our goals formore » all four proposed objectives. First, we determined the phylogenetic composition and metabolic diversity of microbial communities in the temperate grassland and tundra ecosystems. For this objective, we have developed a novel phasing amplicon sequencing (PAS) approach for MiSeq sequencing of amplicons. This approach has been used for sequencing various phylogenetic and functional genes related to ecosystem functioning. A comprehensive functional gene array (e.g., GeoChip 5.0) has also been developed and used for soil microbial community analysis in this study. In addition, shot-gun metagenome sequencing along with the above approaches have been used to understand the phylogenetic and functional diversity, composition, and structure of soil microbial communities in both temperature grassland and tundra ecosystems. Second, we determined the response of soil microbial communities to climate warming in both temperate grassland and tundra ecosystems using various methods. Our major findings are: (i) Microorganisms are very rapid to respond to climate warming in the tundra ecosystem, AK, which is vulnerable, too. (ii) Climate warming also significantly shifted the metabolic diversity, composition and structure of microbial communities, and key metabolic pathways related to carbon turnover, such as cellulose degradation (~13%) and CO2 production (~10%), and to nitrogen cycling, including denitrification (~12%) were enriched by warming. (iii) Warming also altered the expression patterns of microbial functional genes important to ecosystem functioning and stability through GeoChip and metatranscriptomic analysis of soil microbial communities at the OK site. Third, we analyzed temperature sensitivity of C decomposition to climate warming for both AK and OK soils through laboratory incubations. Key results include: (i) Alaska tundra soils showed that after one year of incubation, CT in the top 15 cm could be as high as 25% and 15% of the initial soil C content at 25°C and 15°C incubations, respectively. (ii) analysis of 456 incubated soil samples with 16S rRNA gene, ITS and GeoChip hybridization showed that warming shifted the phylogenretic and functional diversity, composition, structure and metabolic potential of soil microbial communities, and at different stages of incubation, key populations and functional genes significantly changed along with soil substrate changes. Functional gene diversity and functional genes for degrading labile C components decrease along incubation when labile C components are exhausting, but the genes related to degrading recalcitrant C increase. These molecular data will be directly used for modeling. Fourth, we have developed novel approaches to integrate and model experimental data to understand microbial control of ecosystem C processes in response to climate change. We compared different methods to calculate Q10 for estimating temperature sensitivity, and new approaches for Q10 calculation and molecular ecological network analysis were also developed. Using those newly developed approaches, our result indicated that Q10s increased with the recalcitrance of C pools, suggesting that longer incubation studies are needed in order to assess the temperature sensitivity of slower C pools, especially at low temperature regimes. This project has been very productive, resulting in 42 papers published or in press, 4 submitted, and 13 in preparation.« less
  1. Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Contributing Orgs:
Michigan State University, University of Florida, Georgia Institute of Technology
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES climate change; below ground microbial communities; climate warming; soil carbon decomposition