Microbial adaptation to climate change
Soils in the permafrost region hold twice as much carbon as the atmosphere does – almost 1,600 billion tonnes – and permafrost thaw induced by climate change makes this carbon available for microbial degradation. Despite having major implications for human health, prediction of the magnitude of carbon loss as carbon dioxide (CO2) or methane (CH4) is hampered by our limited knowledge of microbial metabolism of organic matter in these environments. Genome-centric meta-omic analysis of microbial communities provides the necessary information to examine how specific lineages transform organic matter during permafrost thaw. Stordalen Mire in northern Sweden has been subject to a decade of intense molecular and biogeochemical study and almost 50 years of climate and vegetation research, providing a unique opportunity to examine how microbial communities are changing alongside our climate.
The Identifying emergent ecosystem responses through genes-to-ecosystems integration at Stordalen Mire project aim is to use integrated meta-omic approaches to examine how individual microbial community members and entire communities assemble, adapt and acclimatise to changing environmental conditions. Ultimately, this work will help to identify important links between the global climate and the dynamics of microbial communities. This work will be part of a recently awarded global EMERGE program funded by the National Science Foundation, and Dr Woodcroft’s ARC Future Fellowship. The goal of these projects is to create models that predict ecosystem response to climate change, and CMR is generating critical knowledge for these models using a ‘genes-to-ecosystems-to-genes’ approach.
Image: Stordalen Mire boardwalk damaged due to permafrost thaw flooding. Photo: Patrick Crill
- Samuel Aroney
- Alexei Chklovski
- Rhys Newell
- Eilish McMaster
Funding / Grants
- USA National Science Foundation Biology Integration Institutes #2022070
- ARC Future Fellowship #FT210100521 (Dr Woodcroft)