Do microbes matter in climate change?

Ditchburn, Jae-Llane ORCID logo ORCID: (2019) Do microbes matter in climate change? University of Cumbria blog [online] . (Unpublished)

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Microbes are single-celled organisms such as bacteria, protozoa and unicellular algae. They can be found in all sorts of environments. To date, the vast majority of microbes is still unknown. The common lay perception of microbes is that they are bacteria and people tend to associate bacteria with disease. The role of microbes in climate change is often overlooked. In fact, microbes are important because they are involved in global biochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen and other nutrients needed to support life on earth. They are also responsible for both the production and consumption of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4). Climate change can significantly affect microbial life and increase the global burden of disease through pathogenic microbes. Climate change also affects how the ecosystem of microbes interacts with climate to contribute to global biochemical processes. Higher temperatures can encourage reproduction of insect vectors of microbes such as Plasmodium sp. that causes malaria. The same has been reported in midge populations responsible for transmitting the bluetongue virus (BTV) to domestic and wild animals through a bite 1. Plants can also be affected due to the enhanced growth and dispersal of plant pathogens. Another consequence of climate change is flooding and more variable rainfall.

1. Maclachlan, N. J., Zientara, S., Wilson, W. C., Richt, J. A. & Savini, G. Bluetongue and epizootic hemorrhagic disease viruses: recent developments with these globally re-emerging arboviral infections of ruminants. Curr. Opin. Virol. 34, 56–62 (2019).

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: University of Cumbria blog [online]
Publisher: University of Cumbria
Departments: Academic Departments > Science, Natural Resources & Outdoor Studies (SNROS) > STEM
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2019 15:42
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2024 09:16


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