Study highlights the effect of climate change on microbial interactions

The effects of climate change are wide and far-reaching. A recent study performed by scientists from the Institute for Environmental Genomics at the University of Oklahoma investigates the effects of climate warming on the stability and complexity of the microbial network, offering important insights into ecosystem management and for predicting ecological outcomes of future climate warming.

Climate Change

Climate Change. Image Credit: Mr.Norio/

Global climate change is one of the most profound anthropogenic disturbances to our planet. Climate warming can alter soil microbial community diversity, structure and activities, but it remains uncertain whether and how it impacts network complexity and its relationships to stability in microbial communities.”

Jizhong Zhou, Director, Institute for Environmental Genomics

Zhouis is also a George Lynn Cross Research Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and an adjunct professor in the Gallogly College of Engineering.

To find out how and whether climate warming has an impact on the stability and complexity of ecological networks in soil microbial communities, the researchers investigated the temporal dynamics of soil microbial communities in a long-term experimental study performed in the tallgrass prairie biome in central Oklahoma.

Our study provides explicit evidence that network complexity begets stability in microbial ecology. Molecular ecological networks under warming became significantly more robust, with network stability strongly correlated with network complexity, supporting the central ecological belief that complexity begets stability.”

Jizhong Zhou, Director, Institute for Environmental Genomics

Furthermore, these results suggest that preserving microbial 'interactions' is critical for ecosystem management and for projecting ecological consequences of future climate warming,” Zhou concluded.

The study results hold implications for predicting ecological outcomes for ecosystem management and future climate change. While climate change has affected decreased biodiversity and the related ecosystem functioning, the new study indicates that the stability of microbial population in the grassland ecosystem and the associated ecosystem functions could be less susceptible in the warmer world.

Journal reference:

Yuan, M. M., et al. (2021) Climate warming enhances microbial network complexity and stability. Nature Climate Change.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of AZoLifeSciences.
You might also like... ×
Environmental DNA could help better understand grasses that cause allergies