Modeling Desert Soil Crust Microbial Community Responses to Pulsed Climate Events

Desert biological soil crusts (BSCs) are simple cyanobacteria-dominated surface soil microbial communities found on all continents in areas with infrequent wetting, often extreme temperatures, and the absence of vascular plants. They exist for extended periods in a desiccated dormant state, yet rapidly re-boot metabolism within minutes of wetting. They inhabit “the fringe” of habitability with respect to aridity, constituting the world’s largest biofilm. They serve as a mantle of fertility in arid lands, and effectively reduce erosion by colonizing highly erodible substrates.BSCs

Biological Soil Crusts – Holding the Desert in Place

The scale and potential sensitivity of these crusts to temperature and wetting frequency/duration make them particularly relevant to understanding the impact of climate change on soil microbial communities. Our overall goal is to provide fundamental insights into the synchronization between environmental events (e.g. precipitation frequency or freeze thaw cycles) and soil microbial activity, specifically carbon metabolism.

This program integrates the capabilities of 4 divisions: ESD (Eoin Brodie), JGI (Cheryl Kerfeld), LSD (Trent Northen), PBD (Aindrila Mukhopadhyay) and expert crust microbial ecologist at ASU (Ferran Garcia-Pichel) to develop the first metabolic and mechanistic model of a soil microbial community’s response to climate change.

Biological Soil Crust team @ LBNL

Biological Soil Crust team @ LBNL

Read more about this project here

2 Responses to Modeling Desert Soil Crust Microbial Community Responses to Pulsed Climate Events

  1. abistone says:

    Hi folks
    Would you give permission for me to use your lovely 3-part picture of the microbial crust in a lecture?
    Best wishes

    • elbrodie says:

      Sorry Abi, just spotted your request. Please feel free to use these images. Let me know if you need more.
      Best – Eoin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s