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Climate Change & Soil Microbes

July 11, 2013

Soil microbes are affected by climate change, which could be a big deal.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Climate micro-management. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Soil microbes are affected by climate change – and that may ultimately affect us. This according to Arizona State University microbiologist Ferran Garcia-Pichel. His team looked at two kinds of bacteria found in the soils of the American West. One prefers the warmer southern soil, while the other prefers cooler northern soil. But as the Earth warms, the southern microbes are taking over northern territory.

FERRAN GARCIA-PICHEL (Arizona State University):

We could then predict that the southern microbe will replace, in time, the northern microbe.

HIRSHON:
He says the disappearing northern bacteria keep the soil fertile and erosion-resistant. And the newcomers may not do the same job. It’s also likely that soil microbes all over the world are facing similar pressures – which could ultimately contribute to crop failures, floods, and other future crises. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

Arizona State University researchers Yevgeniy Marusenko (left) and Ferran Garcia-Pichel collect microbe samples from the desert near Moab, Utah. (Estelle Couradeau)