Microorganisms’ climate adaptation can slow down global warming

A recent study conducted by Lund University in Sweden reveals that the capacity of microorganisms to adapt to climate warming can contribute to mitigating global warming. These microorganisms aid in carbon storage within the soil, thereby slowing down the release of carbon into the atmosphere.

During the study, scientists gathered soil samples from various locations in Europe, encompassing a broad temperature range from -3.1 to 18.3 degrees Celsius. The analysis of these samples uncovered that microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi, exhibit strong adaptation to their specific climate conditions in terms of growth and respiration. Surprisingly, the researchers also discovered that these microorganisms possess the ability to adapt to temperature fluctuations, and in fact, they can derive advantages from such changes.

Carla Cruz Paredes, a biology researcher at Lund University, states, “After years of speculation, we can now confirm that microorganisms do have the ability to adapt to warming and, remarkably, they can play a role in mitigating climate warming.” Despite previous uncertainties, this recent study provides evidence that microorganisms possess the capacity to adapt and contribute to the alleviation of climate warming.

The study, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, further discloses that distinct groups of microorganisms exhibit varying responses to warming. Bacteria and fungi demonstrate contrasting sensitivities to temperature changes, with bacteria being more susceptible than fungi. Additionally, microbial growth is found to be more sensitive to temperature variations compared to respiration. These dissimilarities in temperature sensitivity carry significant implications for projecting carbon dynamics, storage, and the impact of climate warming on soil ecosystems.

Carla Cruz Paredes emphasizes that the contrasting sensitivities of microbial growth and respiration to temperature, as well as the differences between bacteria and fungi, will have consequences for the carbon balance between soil and the atmosphere. These factors significantly influence the soil’s feedback on climate warming, highlighting the intricate relationship between microorganisms and the overall climate system.

The study underscores the significance of incorporating precise representations of microbial reactions to climate warming within models that assess soil carbon content. Furthermore, it elucidates that ecological responses of microorganisms on Earth will have a crucial role in governing the planet’s climate regulation. This research emphasizes the need to consider the influence of microorganisms in understanding and predicting climate dynamics accurately.

Carla Cruz Paredes emphasizes that climate warming poses a significant environmental threat. To effectively address global warming, it is crucial to enhance the soil’s capacity to store carbon and reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere. The study’s findings contribute to improved predictions and assessments for the United Nations’ climate panel, thereby advancing our understanding and response to this critical global challenge.