Warming reduces the cover and diversity of biocrust-forming mosses and lichens, and increases the physiological stress of soil microbial communities in a semi-arid Pinus halepensis plantation

Fernando T. Maestre*, Cristina Escolar, Richard D. Bardgett, Jennifer A.J. Dungait, Beatriz Gozalo, Victoria Ochoa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations

Abstract

Soil communities dominated by lichens and mosses (biocrusts) play key roles in maintaining ecosystem structure and functioning in drylands worldwide. However, few studies have explicitly evaluated how climate change-induced impacts on biocrusts affect associated soil microbial communities. We report results from a field experiment conducted in a semiarid Pinus halepensis plantation, where we setup an experiment with two factors: cover of biocrusts (low [<15%] versus high [>50%]), and warming (control versus a ~2°C temperature increase). Warming reduced the richness and cover (~45%) of high biocrust cover areas 53 months after the onset of the experiment. This treatment did not change the ratios between the major microbial groups, as measured by phospholipid fatty acid analysis. Warming increased the physiological stress of the Gram negative bacterial community, as indicated by the cy17:0/16:1ω7 ratio. This response was modulated by the initial biocrust cover, as the increase in this ratio with warming was higher in areas with low cover. Our findings suggest that biocrusts can slow down the negative effects of warming on the physiological status of the Gram negative bacterial community. However, as warming will likely reduce the cover and diversity of biocrusts, these positive effects will be reduced under climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number865
JournalFRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY
Volume6
Issue numberAUG
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Biocrusts
  • Climate change
  • Drylands
  • Lichen
  • Microbial communities
  • Moss
  • PLFA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Warming reduces the cover and diversity of biocrust-forming mosses and lichens, and increases the physiological stress of soil microbial communities in a semi-arid Pinus halepensis plantation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this