Agricultural management practices evaluated in new nitrous oxide accounting method

Most analyses point to agriculture as the major source of nitrous oxide (N2O) globally. But there are a lot of variables within agriculture that can affect emissions. A recent University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign study provides a comprehensive accounting for these factors, finding, among other things, that long-term no-till management can effectively cut N2O emissions.

Soil Bacteria Link their Life Strategies to Soil Conditions

Microbiologists do not fully understand how bacteria’s genes relate to their life strategies. Now, by analyzing large DNA sequencing datasets from around the globe, researchers discovered a new way of categorizing the dominant life strategies of soil bacteria based on their genes. This technique allowed the researchers to link different life strategies with specific climate and soil conditions.

The Legacy of Past Disturbance Shapes Coastal Forest Soil Stability

Coastal forests are increasingly exposed to the effects of climate change and sea level rise. New experimental research examined how soils change when transplanted between parts of a tidal creek that differed in salinity. Scientists found that soils with a history of salinity and inundation by seawater were more resistant to changes in water conditions, suggesting that soils learn from their history of inundation.

Humans are leaving behind a ‘frozen signature’ of microbes on Mount Everest

In decades past, scientists have been unable to conclusively identify human-associated microbes in samples collected above 26,000 feet. This study marks the first time that next-generation gene sequencing technology has been used to analyze soil from such a high elevation on Mount Everest, enabling researchers to gain new insight into almost everything and anything that’s in them.

Hijacking the Hijackers: Engineering Bacterial Viruses to Genetically Modify their Hosts

Most methods of editing bacterial genomes use plasmids to transfer DNA between bacterial cells, but this approach isn’t always efficient in mixed microbial communities. This research instead developed a new phage-based DNA delivery tool that leverages these viruses’ ability to inject DNA into host bacteria. The researchers also used this tool to edit individual genes inside a target host organism within a living microbial community.

It Isn’t the Picky Eaters that Drive Soil Microbial Metabolism

How do microbes in soil communities interact to release nutrients from material in the soil? Researchers have discovered that microbes able to break down one type of available food, chitin, are critical for the community’s success but do not necessarily grow the fastest. Instead, species with the ability to use a wide range of food sources produced by other members of the community become the most abundant. The researchers also found that individual microbes can change their behavior when grown alone or in the community.

Whole Ecosystem Warming Stimulates Methane Production from Plant Metabolites in Peatlands

While peatlands have historically stored massive amounts of soil carbon, warming is expected to enhance decomposition, leading to a positive climate change feedback effect. This study experimentally warmed peatlands in northern Minnesota and observed increased methane production relative to carbon dioxide release. This methane release process is likely to amplify global climate warming.

For Grassland Soil Viruses, Precipitation Shapes Diversity, Abundance, and Function

As precipitation patterns shift in response to climate change, scientists must understand how this change affects soil viruses. In this study, scientists analyzed DNA viruses in three grassland soils with different historical precipitation patterns: low precipitation from eastern Washington, intermediate precipitation from Kansas, and high precipitation from Iowa. The researchers found that viruses were more diverse and more common in drier soil.

“Ghost Forests” Expanding Along Northeast U.S. Coast

Why are “ghost forests” filled with dead trees expanding along the mid-Atlantic and southern New England coast? Higher groundwater levels linked to sea-level rise and increased flooding from storm surges and very high tides are likely the most important factors, according to a Rutgers study on the impacts of climate change that suggests how to enhance land-use planning.

How Rocks Rusted on Earth and Turned Red

How did rocks rust on Earth and turn red? A Rutgers-led study has shed new light on the important phenomenon and will help address questions about the Late Triassic climate more than 200 million years ago, when greenhouse gas levels were high enough to be a model for what our planet may be like in the future.

How to Get a Handle on Carbon Dioxide Uptake by Plants

How much carbon dioxide, a pivotal greenhouse gas behind global warming, is absorbed by plants on land? It’s a deceptively complicated question, so a Rutgers-led group of scientists recommends combining two cutting-edge tools to help answer the crucial climate change-related question.

Land Development in New Jersey Continues to Slow

Land development in New Jersey has slowed dramatically since the 2008 Great Recession, but it’s unclear how the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to fight societal and housing inequality will affect future trends, according to a Rutgers co-authored report. Between 2012 and 2015, 10,392 acres in the Garden State became urban land. That’s 3,464 acres a year – far lower than the 16,852 acres per year in the late 1990s and continuing the trend of decreasing urban development that began in the 2008 Great Recession.

Rutgers Cooperative Extension Offers “Earth Day at Home” Webinar Series

New Brunswick, N.J. (April 16, 2020) – In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, Rutgers Cooperative Extension will offer an “Earth Day at Home” webinar series. The webinars, on Mondays from April 20 to June…

Rutgers Expert Available to Discuss Climate Change Impacts on Land, Wildfires and Solutions

New Brunswick, N.J. (Jan. 15, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Pamela McElwee is available for interviews on climate change impacts on land, including increasing wildfires such as in Australia and California, and solutions. She is scheduled to testify before…