EGU23-9119, updated on 08 Jan 2024
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Effects of climate change on microbial taxonomy and metabolic processes in Alaskan permafrost-affected soils

Robyn Barbato1, Stacey Doherty1, Robert Jones1, Chris Baker1, Komi Messan2, Amanda Barker1, and Thomas Douglas1
Robyn Barbato et al.
  • 1Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, United States of America (
  • 2National Institutes of Health

Permafrost is thawing at unprecedented rates, significantly altering landscapes and ecosystem trajectories by changing subsurface conditions and vegetation characteristics. The combination of in situ and laboratory analysis is important to understand microbial heterogeneity and to simulate the effects of thaw.  Dormant microbes become active as temperatures rise and permafrost soils warm and thaw, suggesting that sub-surface ecosystem processes will be altered. The extent of microbial change throughout seasons and thaw periods remain poorly understood.  We collected permafrost-affected soils at two Alaskan sites to determine the effects of sample location and warming on the permafrost microbiome.  In situ analysis of northern Alaskan soils revealed that surface communities were highly variable throughout the growing season.  In two laboratory thaw studies, we assessed permafrost microbiome taxonomy and metabolic function during thaw.  Under frozen conditions, microbial respiration rates from different PT locations were similar, ranging from 2 to 12 mg C–CO2 per kg soil per day and permafrost microorganisms were heterogeneously distributed in space.  Following thaw, metabolomes from different locations were highly similar.  However, the trajectory of dominant taxa and potential function in a given PT sample was more strongly influenced by sample location than by incubation temperature. This indicates a differential response of permafrost microbes based on their origin. These findings have important implications for developing accurate forecasts of microbial community assemblages during thaw in that location should be considered as a strong influencing factor.  

How to cite: Barbato, R., Doherty, S., Jones, R., Baker, C., Messan, K., Barker, A., and Douglas, T.: Effects of climate change on microbial taxonomy and metabolic processes in Alaskan permafrost-affected soils, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-9119,, 2023.