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The impacts of climate change on Sphagnom moss microbiome and its impact carbon levels in peatlands by Caitlin Petro
Sphagnum moss-dominated peatlands comprise a huge global carbon sink, collectively storing up to one third of the world’s soil carbon. It has been hypothesized that warming from climate change is likely to reduce the carbon-storing capacity of peatlands, leading to increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that can further exacerbate the warming of the planet. The extent to which peatlands will transition from carbon sink to carbon source is largely dependent on the resilience of Sphagnum mosses to climate change drivers, as these keystone taxa are ecosystem engineers that drive the accumulation of carbon in peat deposits. Sphagnum mosses are known to harbor diverse microbial communities that perform critical transformations of carbon and nitrogen, but little is known regarding their contributions to host functioning and their response to climate change drivers such as warming and increased concentrations of atmospheric CO2. In this study, we investigate the impacts of experimental whole-ecosystem warming on the composition and activity of the Sphagnum moss microbiome, focusing on microorganisms that can fix N2 (diazotrophs) and oxidize methane (methanotrophs). Our results demonstrate that warming substantially alters the community composition and activity of the Sphagnum moss microbiome, which may have far-reaching effects on Sphagnum health and, ultimately, carbon storage potential in peatlands.