Climate change is destroying microbial diversity

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Many of the potential impacts of climate change on humans, wildlife and plants are relatively well understood. Higher temperatures and extreme weather events can cause this food insecurity, habitat lossand the decline or extinction of species of living beings. But it is also important to discuss how climate change may affect microorganisms tiny creatures found all over the planet that the naked eye cannot see.

Microorganisms are the earliest known life forms on earth. You play a critical Role in ecological processes such as organic matter decomposition, nutrient recycling, soil aggregation and even pathogen control. Their abundance and diversity help maintain a stable and healthy global ecosystem. However, if microbial diversity were to change, the ability of other organisms to respond to climate change could change affectedto.

A to learn Published in natural microbiology This month reported that long-term global warming is reducing microbial biodiversity in grassland soils. The authors conducted a seven-year experiment to monitor the changes in microbial communities in response to climate changes such as warming, altered rainfall, and annual biomass depletion. They found that the abundance of bacteria, fungi and protists decreased.

Microbial diversity is significant in maintaining soil health and quality and soil performance function as a living system that maintains biological productivity and supports plant and animal health. Unfortunately, the loss of microbial diversity is associated with a loss of function. This does not bode well for humans, as it translates into reduced ability to grow crops, increased environmental damage, and decreased ability to fight pathogenic microbes and plants, says Martin J. Blaser, Henry Rutgers Chair of the Human Microbiome at Rutgers University not involved in the study.

To support food production for a growing human population, farmers need healthy soil. Climate change – through reduced microbial diversity – can affect not only our ability to grow food, but also result in certain foods with lower nutritional value, says Blaser. This is because microbial diversity is necessary to promote nutrient uptake and make it easier for plants to absorb important soil minerals and micronutrients.

[Related: Bacteria wars are raging in soil, and it’s keeping ecosystems healthy.]

More than two billion people are already suffering from micronutrient deficiencies worldwide, which lead to various health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, congenital disabilities and mental health problems. For example, many children in China are deficient in iron and zinc, which is possible derive from the lack of these elements in soil and food. in 2007, about 40 percent of the entire land area in China was low in iron and zinc.

“Human well-being is directly linked to microbes,” says Jay T. Lennon, a professor in Indiana University’s Department of Biology, who was not involved in the study. “Of course it’s about our health affected by the trillions of microbes that live on and within us. But so are they in nature provide essential services related to removing pollutants, purifying water and ensuring the fertility of the soil needed to feed a growing planet.”

An important role of microbes lies in the reduction of pollutant concentrations in crops, which is of crucial importance as the contamination of fresh produce with pathogens poses an urgent threat to human health. For example, eating contaminated vegetables grown in soil spiked with non-composted animal manure can transmit pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli enter the human body. In addition, certain plant defenses do not work as effectively at high temperatures, making them more susceptible to pathogens. Overall, the microbial diversity in the soil helps suppress disease-causing soil organisms due to the complex interactions that occur underground and potentially inhibit the development or persistence of pathogens.

“Scientists are concerned about how climate change will affect the impact distribution of diseases like cholera, but also the emergence new pathogens,” says Lennon. “Plant and animal hosts enter into complex relationships with microbial symbionts. It is currently unclear how climate change will change these relationships and what the consequences will be.”

Ultimately, it is crucial to protect biodiversity – the diversity of Everyone Life on earth – too care for the stability of the global ecosystem. biodiversity loss is Driven by climate change, but this decline in biodiversity can also accelerate climate change, making it a positive feedback loop. For example, the instability of ecosystems due to loss of biodiversity weakens the Earth’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and prevent extreme weather events, which in turn changes the structure of many ecosystems and makes species more vulnerable.

Because you can’t see microbes, it can be more difficult to protect them. Some studies show that the level of understanding of microbial ecosystems and their services must increase to be brought up to par with plants and animals before they are taken seriously in conservation initiatives and policies. Nevertheless, the protection of flora and fauna remains of crucial importance, since with the extinction of certain plants and animals the microbes associated with them can also disappear.

“To a certain degree, [the] Plant and animal conservation will also help preserve the associated microbiota,” says Lennon. “Like a newer paper discusses how ‘acoustic restoration’ – that is, work to restore natural soundscapes – aids in conservation efforts, including the preservation of ecosystems.”

According to Blaser, the loss of microbial diversity can also be caused by the use of fertilizer, pesticidesand monoculture practices. Specific solutions, such as reduce Use of chemical pesticides and crop diversification, will likely reduce negative impacts on microbial diversity. Fighting climate change requires all sorts of priorities and biodiversity loss must be addressed – including the creatures we rely on that we may hardly ever think of.

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