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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2019 Sep;17(9):569-586. doi: 10.1038/s41579-019-0222-5. Epub 2019 Jun 18.

Scientists' warning to humanity: microorganisms and climate change.

Author information

1
School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia. r.cavicchioli@unsw.edu.au.
2
Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA.
3
Institute of Microbiology, Technical University Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany.
4
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.
5
Faculty of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway.
6
Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.
7
Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA.
8
Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Marine and Polar Research, Bremerhaven, Germany.
9
Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany.
10
Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, Australia.
11
Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, and The Gund Institute for Environment, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA.
12
Institute of Integrative Biology, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
13
Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona, Italy.
14
Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Naples, Italy.
15
Center for Biofilm Engineering, and Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, USA.
16
Department of Freshwater and Marine Ecology, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
17
Department of Biological Sciences, Marine and Environmental Biology Section, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
18
Biological Sciences Division, Earth and Biological Sciences Directorate, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, USA.
19
Daniel K. Inouye Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education, School of Ocean and Earth Science & Technology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, USA.
20
Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA.
21
Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA, USA.
22
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA.
23
Department of Marine Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA.
24
Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA.
25
School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.
26
Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA.
27
Microbiology Department, and the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA.
28
Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, and Global Centre for Land-Based Innovation, Western Sydney University, Penrith, NSW, Australia.
29
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.
30
School of Biological Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA.
31
Department of Microbiology, and Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering, and the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA.
32
School of BioSciences, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia.
33
Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, QLD, Australia.
34
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, USA.
35
Australian Centre for Ecogenomics, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

Abstract

In the Anthropocene, in which we now live, climate change is impacting most life on Earth. Microorganisms support the existence of all higher trophic life forms. To understand how humans and other life forms on Earth (including those we are yet to discover) can withstand anthropogenic climate change, it is vital to incorporate knowledge of the microbial 'unseen majority'. We must learn not just how microorganisms affect climate change (including production and consumption of greenhouse gases) but also how they will be affected by climate change and other human activities. This Consensus Statement documents the central role and global importance of microorganisms in climate change biology. It also puts humanity on notice that the impact of climate change will depend heavily on responses of microorganisms, which are essential for achieving an environmentally sustainable future.

PMID:
31213707
DOI:
10.1038/s41579-019-0222-5

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