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article imageThe Amazon’s microbes affect carbon dioxide

By Tim Sandle     Jan 17, 2014 in Environment
The Amazon’s widespread conversion from rainforest to pastureland has significant effects on microorganism communities that may lead to a reduction in the region's role as a reservoir for greenhouse gas.
Last week Digital Journal reported that variations in the population of forest fungi can affect the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This week comes a similar news item about the deforestation of the Amazon and how a reduction in microorganisms also affects carbon dioxide levels.
The issue concerning scientists is that the Amazon rainforest is the largest terrestrial reservoir for carbon dioxide. Through photosynthesis, the Amazon absorbs 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year. This process requires nitrogen, and the nitrogen comes from a mix of microorganisms (carbon and nitrogen cycles are strongly linked).
As more of the Amazon is turned into pasture this changes the microbial composition, a research report argues. The report goes onto speculate that changes to the microbial communities may impact on the carbon cycle and thus contribute to climate changes.
The research was carried out at UT Arlington. The findings have been reported in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, in a paper titled “Response of Free-Living Nitrogen-Fixing Microorganisms to Land Use Change in the Amazon Rainforest.”
More about Amazon, Microbes, Carbon, Carbon dioxide, Greenhouse gases
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