Bacteria and climate change

“More than 30 microbiologists from 9 countries have issued a warning to humanity — they are calling for the world to stop ignoring an ‘unseen majority’ in Earth’s biodiversity and ecosystem when addressing climate change.”1

shallow focus photography of microscope
Photo by Chokniti Khongchum on

For most of us the microorganisms that fuel our planet are out of sight but definitely should not be out of mind when contemplating the outcomes of anthropogenic climate change. A recent article on Science Daily reports on recent paper published in the Journal Nature Reviews authored by 30 scientists from around the globe titled “Scientists’ warning to humanity: microorganisms and climate change”. The article is a compelling call to fully understand how climate change will effect microorganisms and how microorganisms will affect climate change. The authors lay scenarios as to how climate change may alter the marine and terrestrial biomes, alter agriculture and infectious diseases and discuss the potential use of microbes in mitigating the effects of climate change.

It is clear that in just about every scenario of any organism studies climate change will decrease the biodiversity on our planet and the authors of this study conclude the same for microorganisms.

“Extant life has evolved over billions of years to generate vast biodiversity, and microbial biodiversity is practically limitless compared with macroscopic life. Biodiversity of macroscopic organisms is rapidly declining because of human activity, suggesting that the biodiversity of host-specific microorganisms of animal and plant species will also decrease. However, compared with macroscopic organisms, we know far less about the connections between microorganisms and anthropogenic climate change.”2

If you can find the time and are science minded this is one article you can not miss.

1.University of New South Wales. “Leaving microbes out of climate change conversation has major consequences, experts warn.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 June 2019.

2. Ricardo Cavicchioli, William J. Ripple, Kenneth N. Timmis, Farooq Azam, Lars R. Bakken, Matthew Baylis, Michael J. Behrenfeld, Antje Boetius, Philip W. Boyd, Aimée T. Classen, Thomas W. Crowther, Roberto Danovaro, Christine M. Foreman, Jef Huisman, David A. Hutchins, Janet K. Jansson, David M. Karl, Britt Koskella, David B. Mark Welch, Jennifer B. H. Martiny, Mary Ann Moran, Victoria J. Orphan, David S. Reay, Justin V. Remais, Virginia I. Rich, Brajesh K. Singh, Lisa Y. Stein, Frank J. Stewart, Matthew B. Sullivan, Madeleine J. H. van Oppen, Scott C. Weaver, Eric A. Webb, Nicole S. Webster. Scientists’ warning to humanity: microorganisms and climate change. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41579-019-0222-5

9 thoughts on “Bacteria and climate change

  1. I’m grateful you are considering the impact climate change will have on our microbial biosphere which will undoubtedly have direct effects on us. However, I have faith that our billion year old planetary ancestors will be able to adapt and survive better than we can.


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