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Title: Final technical report. Can microbial functional traits predict the response and resilience of decomposition to global change?

The role of specific micro-organisms in the carbon cycle, and their responses to environmental change, are unknown in most ecosystems. This knowledge gap limits scientists’ ability to predict how important ecosystem processes, like soil carbon storage and loss, will change with climate and other environmental factors. The investigators addressed this knowledge gap by transplanting microbial communities from different environments into new environments and measuring the response of community composition and carbon cycling over time. Using state-of-the-art sequencing techniques, computational tools, and nanotechnology, the investigators showed that microbial communities on decomposing plant material shift dramatically with natural and experimentally-imposed drought. Microbial communities also shifted in response to added nitrogen, but the effects were smaller. These changes had implications for carbon cycling, with lower rates of carbon loss under drought conditions, and changes in the efficiency of decomposition with nitrogen addition. Even when transplanted into the same conditions, microbial communities from different environments remained distinct in composition and functioning for up to one year. Changes in functioning were related to differences in enzyme gene content across different microbial groups. Computational approaches developed for this project allowed the conclusions to be tested more broadly in other ecosystems, and new computer models will facilitatemore » the prediction of microbial traits and functioning across environments. The data and models resulting from this project benefit the public by improving the ability to predict how microbial communities and carbon cycling functions respond to climate change, nutrient enrichment, and other large-scale environmental changes.« less
  1. Univ. of California, Irvine, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
The Regents of the University of California, Irvine, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES microbial community; carbon cycling; traits; extracellular enzyme; global change