Bacteria may accelerate global warming

2021 The Warmest Year

Scientists have suggested that bacteria could further accelerate the climate change as they can adapt to hotter temperatures, they speed up their respiration rate and release more carbon.

Climate warming could be faster than the present models, as bacteria and related organisms called archaea could release more carbon and add to global temperature, according to a research by scientists from Imperial College London.

Bacteria and archaea, collectively known as prokaryotes, are present on every continent and make up around half of global biomass — the total weight of all organisms on Earth. Bacteria uses energy and releases carbon dioxide — just like we do when we breathe out.

Researchers have found the majority will increase their carbon output in response to higher temperatures to a greater degree than previously thought.

Lead researcher Dr Samraat Pawar, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial, said: “In the short term, on a scale of days to hours, individual prokaryotes will increase their metabolism and produce more carbon dioxide. However, there is still a maximum temperature at which their metabolism becomes inefficient.

“In the longer term, over years, these prokaryote communities will evolve to be more efficient at higher temperatures, allowing them to further increase their metabolism and their carbon output,” he said.


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