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Sci Rep. 2015 Dec 10;5:18032. doi: 10.1038/srep18032.

Stronger warming effects on microbial abundances in colder regions.

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State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology (SKLLQG), and Key Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry and Physics, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an 710061, China.
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China.
University of Oklahoma, Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, Norman, 73019, USA.
Tsinghua University, Center for Earth System Science, Beijing, 100084, China.
Fudan University, Coastal Ecosystems Research Station of Yangtze River Estuary, Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, The Institute of Biodiversity Science, Shanghai 200433, China.
Xi'an Jiaotong University, Institute of Global Environmental Change, Xi'an 710049, China.


Soil microbes play critical roles in regulating terrestrial carbon (C) cycle and its feedback to climate change. However, it is still unclear how the soil microbial community and abundance respond to future climate change scenarios. In this meta-analysis, we synthesized the responses of microbial community and abundance to experimental warming from 64 published field studies. Our results showed that warming significantly increased soil microbial abundance by 7.6% on average. When grouped by vegetation or soil types, tundras and histosols had the strongest microbial responses to warming with increased microbial, fungal, and bacterial abundances by 15.0%, 9.5% and 37.0% in tundra, and 16.5%, 13.2% and 13.3% in histosols, respectively. We found significant negative relationships of the response ratios of microbial, fungal and bacterial abundances with the mean annual temperature, indicating that warming had stronger effects in colder than warmer regions. Moreover, the response ratios of microbial abundance to warming were positively correlated with those of soil respiration. Our findings therefore indicate that the large quantities of C stored in colder regions are likely to be more vulnerable to climate warming than the soil C stored in other warmer regions.

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