Stronger warming effects on microbial abundances in colder regions

Ji Chen, Yiqi Luo, Jianyang Xia, Lifen Jiang, Xuhui Zhou, Meng Lu, Junyi Liang, Zheng Shi, Shelby Shelton, Junji Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number18032
JournalScientific Reports
StatePublished - Dec 10 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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