Long-term warming associated with genetic changes in soil microbes


Source/Disclosures

Source:

DeAngelis KM, et al. Abstract 2496. Submitted to: ASM Microbe; June 9-13, 2022; washington d.c.


Disclosures: DeAngelis does not report any relevant financial information.


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WASHINGTON – Long-term warming is associated with genetic changes in soil microbes, “resulting in an altered microbial response to the environment,” ASM Microbe researchers report.

Researchers studied how rising temperatures could affect the impact of terrestrial microbes on the climate.


hand holding soil
Soil that has been exposed to long-term warming has undergone genetic changes in microbial traits. Source: Adobe Stock.

“I’m really interested in soil, microbes in soil, and whether they can act as self-reinforcing feedback for the climate system,” Kristen M DeAngelis, PhD, said an associate professor in the University of Massachusetts microbiology department.

DeAngelis explained that all organisms, including soil organisms, respond to environmental stressors and stress in general, and that climate as a stressor could lead to microbial adaptation of soil organisms as they grow. adapt to long-term warming, which could ultimately alter their genetic traits. .

“This would lead to irreversible and heritable changes in microbial traits and carbon cycle activities,” the authors wrote in their abstract.

To understand how soil microbes adapt to global warming, researchers evaluated bacteria isolated from a long-term field warming experiment in which soils were heated to 5°C above ambient temperatures. air standard for 30 years. They screened the isolates, focusing on members of dominant lineages or lineages that have previously been observed to be warming-sensitive, including actinobacteria, acidobacteria and alphaproteobacteria. Isolates were genotyped and analyzed for fitness.

Overall, they found that actinobacteria exposed to long-term warming had increased drought tolerance, growing more in dry conditions compared to isolates from controls. Additionally, after examining Alphaproteobacteria exposed to long-term warming and measuring their sensitivity to growth temperature, the researchers cultured isolates in liquid in 96-well plates and sequenced their genomes, revealing lineage alterations. bacteria from heated soil plots compared to controls.

Based on these findings, they concluded that soil bacteria acquire novel traits in response to chronic warming, including adaptive genomic signatures.

“These genomic markers of adaptation support our hypothesis that long-term warming is associated with heritable changes in microbial traits, resulting in an altered microbial response to the environment,” the authors wrote.