Soil Microbes Don't Aid Global Warming

IRVINE, Calif., April 27 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say the physiology of microbes living underground could determine the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from soil during global warning.

Researchers at the University of California-Irvine, Colorado State University and Yale University said they have found that as global temperatures increase, microbes in soil will become less efficient in converting carbon into carbon dioxide, which is a key contributor to climate warming.

Microbes, in the form of bacteria and fungi, use carbon for energy to breathe, or respire, and to grow. The scientists said a model they developed shows microbes exhaling carbon dioxide furiously for a short period of time in a warmer environment but, as higher temperatures persist, the less-efficient use of carbon by the microbes causes them to decrease in number, eventually resulting in less carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere.

“Microbes aren’t the destructive agents of global warming that scientists had previously believed,” UC-Irvine Assistant Professor Steven Allison, the study’s lead author, said.

The research, which included Matthew Wallenstein of Colorado State University and Yale Assistant Professor Mark Bradford, appears in the early online edition of the journal Nature Geoscience.

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