Soil Microbiome

Rehydrating peatland microbiomes

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Science  22 May 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6493, pp. 841-842
DOI: 10.1126/science.368.6493.841-c

After short periods of drought, rehydration of peat bogs allows recovery of their microbial communities.

PHOTO: MARTYN WILLIAMS/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Peatlands are good at storing carbon but are destabilized when they dry out. This happens because oxygen penetrates the dry peat to promote aerobic degradation, releasing carbon and nutrients. Destruction of the mossy overlay follows, which in an intact functioning bog supplies a continuous accumulation of organic matter. Rewetting might restore dried-out peatlands, but whether functioning bog communities that draw down carbon are restored depends on whether microbial communities are restored. Emsens et al. surveyed the microbial communities of undrained, dry, and rewetted peatlands. Microbial communities differed between undrained and dry peatland. Rewetted peatlands showed recovery of microbial communities, although loss of organic matter during extended dry times seemed to limit microbiome recovery.

ISME J. 10.1038/s41396-020-0639-x (2020).

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