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Soil Microorganisms and Global Climate Change

By Tabitha Amendolara

From the author, Tabitha Amendolara:

As critical components to the carbon and nitrogen cycles, microorganisms contribute significantly to the production and consumption of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and nitric oxide (NO). Although not often found in the forefront of climate change dialogues, changes such as increased temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentrations can significantly impact microbial processes in the soil and may increase or decrease microbial greenhouse gas emissions. However, the extent of these effects is unknown. In this literature review paper written for Dr. Birthe Kjellerup's Microbiology course, I look at the role that soil microorganisms play in the release of greenhouse gases and the effects that climate change may have on soil microbial processes. In doing so, I review several recent studies that examine the potential positive and negative feedback effects of soil microbes on climate change in order to contribute to a more complete understanding of global climate change.

From the Faculty Nominator, Birthe Kjellerup:

Tabitha wrote "Soil Microorganisms and Global Climate Change" for Bio354 (Microbiology and Immunology). The assignment was to review a group of microorganisms that are important either because they cause a disease or influence our environment in significant ways. Tabitha chose to focus on soil microorganisms and how they are involved in global climate change. The paper was based on two parts, one how soil microorganisms can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and two how the increased temperature and carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere might influence the microbial processes in soil. Tabitha chose a very exiting topic not only addressing how one specific bacterium influences the environment, but how several groups of soil microorganisms both influence and are being influenced by the change in global climate specifically temperature increase. The review of sources used for this paper was very impressive as well as her understanding of both the microbiology and chemistry related to this complex topic. Her paper truly gives us a new understanding of the role microorganisms play in global climate change.

Read: Soil Microorganisms and Global Climate Change

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