Climate warming is releasing carbon from soils around the world1-3, constituting a positive climate feedback. Warming is also causing species to expand their ranges into new ecosystems4-9. Yet, in most ecosystems, whether range expanding species will amplify or buffer expected soil carbon loss is unknown10. Here we used two whole-community transplant experiments and a follow-up glasshouse experiment to determine whether the establishment of herbaceous lowland plants in alpine ecosystems influences soil carbon content under warming. We found that warming (transplantation to low elevation) led to a negligible decrease in alpine soil carbon content, but its effects became significant and 52% ± 31% (mean ± 95% CIs) larger after lowland plants were introduced at low density into the ecosystem. We present evidence that decreases in soil carbon content likely occurred via lowland plants increasing rates of root exudation, soil microbial respiration and CO2 release under warming. Our findings suggest that warming-induced range expansions of herbaceous plants have the potential to alter climate feedbacks from this system, and that plant range expansions among herbaceous communities may be an overlooked mediator of warming effects on carbon dynamics.
Data Availability: All data contributing to the findings of this study have been deposited in the OSF under the DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/S54CH. All R scripts necessary to reproduce the findings of this study are available in the github repository tom-n-walker/uphill-plants-soil-carbon.
Data: uphill plant migrations soil carbon loss10.17605/OSF.IO/S54CH.
- Jake Alexander
- Tom WN Walker
- Jake Alexander
- Konstantin Gavazov
- Sebastián Block
- Tamara Münkemüller
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Bernhard Schmid, University of Zurich, Switzerland
© 2022, Walker et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Honeybees rely on their microbial gut symbionts to overcome a potent toxin found in pollen and nectar.
Unicellular algae, termed phytoplankton, greatly impact the marine environment by serving as the basis of marine food webs and by playing central roles in the biogeochemical cycling of elements. The interactions between phytoplankton and heterotrophic bacteria affect the fitness of both partners. It is becoming increasingly recognized that metabolic exchange determines the nature of such interactions, but the underlying molecular mechanisms remain underexplored. Here, we investigated the molecular and metabolic basis for the bacterial lifestyle switch, from coexistence to pathogenicity, in Sulfitobacter D7 during its interaction with Emiliania huxleyi, a cosmopolitan bloom-forming phytoplankter. To unravel the bacterial lifestyle switch, we analyzed bacterial transcriptomes in response to exudates derived from algae in exponential growth and stationary phase, which supported the Sulfitobacter D7 coexistence and pathogenicity lifestyles, respectively. In pathogenic mode, Sulfitobacter D7 upregulated flagellar motility and diverse transport systems, presumably to maximize assimilation of E. huxleyi-derived metabolites released by algal cells upon cell death. Algal dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) was a pivotal signaling molecule that mediated the transition between the lifestyles, supporting our previous findings. However, the coexisting and pathogenic lifestyles were evident only in the presence of additional algal metabolites. Specifically, we discovered that algae-produced benzoate promoted the growth of Sulfitobacter D7 and hindered the DMSP-induced lifestyle switch to pathogenicity, demonstrating that benzoate is important for maintaining the coexistence of algae and bacteria. We propose that bacteria can sense the physiological state of the algal host through changes in the metabolic composition, which will determine the bacterial lifestyle during interaction.