Apr 20th, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM


Effect of Change in Precipitation Due to Climate Change on Soil Microbial Community Structure and Function

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Kevin Feris


Global climate change has drawn the attention of the public and professionals, alike, due to a host of human health and environmental implications. Researchers have studied, and continue to study, a wide variety of environmental implications, including effects on ecosystems and biodiversity, sea level rise, agriculture, and precipitation. How microbial life on earth is affected by global climate change is not well understood. The following research proposal represents an attempt to better understand the affects of global climate change, particularly precipitation changes, on microbial diversity. The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has maintained soil plots of variable soil types, precipitation conditions, and vegetation cover for more than 15 years. We sampled a subset of these plots that encompassed three different precipitation regimes (ambient, 2X summer, and 2X fall/spring), across two different plant communities (native sagebrush mix consisting of a variety of shrubs, grasses, and forbs and crested wheat grass monoculture), and at two different depths, 15-20 cm and 95-100 cm deep, all within the same soil type. Replicate samples were obtained from separate plots for each treatment to ensure sampling was representative of the microbial life present. We are utilizing terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis (TRFLP) to analyze the soil microbial community composition to obtain insight into how global climate change, particularly altered precipitation patterns, impacts microbial diversity and plant-microbe interactions. This work is on-going and we expect to observe significant precipitation treatment effects in the shallow (i.e. 15-20 cm) samples and differences with respect to plant community type. These data will be evaluated along with a suite of other measures to assess how long-term alteration in precipitation patterns affects soil microbial community structure and function.