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Temperature adaptation of soil bacterial communities along an Antarctic climate gradient: predicting responses to climate warming

Authors

  • RIIKKA RINNAN,

    1. Department of Microbial Ecology, Lund University, Ecology Building, SE-22362 Lund, Sweden,
    2. Terrestrial Ecology Section, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 2D, DK-1353 Copenhagen K, Denmark,
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  • JOHANNES ROUSK,

    1. Department of Microbial Ecology, Lund University, Ecology Building, SE-22362 Lund, Sweden,
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  • ETIENNE YERGEAU,

    1. Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Centre for Terrestrial Ecology, Heteren, The Netherlands,
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    • 1Present address: Biotechnology Research Institute, National Research Council of Canada, Montréal, Canada.

  • GEORGE A. KOWALCHUK,

    1. Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Centre for Terrestrial Ecology, Heteren, The Netherlands,
    2. Institute of Ecological Science, Free University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • ERLAND BÅÅTH

    1. Department of Microbial Ecology, Lund University, Ecology Building, SE-22362 Lund, Sweden,
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Riikka Rinnan, tel. +45 35 32 22 44, fax +45 35 32 23 21, e-mail: riikkar@bio.ku.dk

Abstract

Soil microorganisms, the central drivers of terrestrial Antarctic ecosystems, are being confronted with increasing temperatures as parts of the continent experience considerable warming. Here we determined short-term temperature dependencies of Antarctic soil bacterial community growth rates, using the leucine incorporation technique, in order to predict future changes in temperature sensitivity of resident soil bacterial communities. Soil samples were collected along a climate gradient consisting of locations on the Antarctic Peninsula (Anchorage Island, 67 °34′S, 68 °08′W), Signy Island (60 °43′S, 45 °38′W) and the Falkland Islands (51 °76′S 59 °03′W). At each location, experimental plots were subjected to warming by open top chambers (OTCs) and paired with control plots on vegetated and fell-field habitats. The bacterial communities were adapted to the mean annual temperature of their environment, as shown by a significant correlation between the mean annual soil temperature and the minimum temperature for bacterial growth (Tmin). Every 1 °C rise in soil temperature was estimated to increase Tmin by 0.24–0.38 °C. The optimum temperature for bacterial growth varied less and did not have as clear a relationship with soil temperature. Temperature sensitivity, indicated by Q10 values, increased with mean annual soil temperature, suggesting that bacterial communities from colder regions were less temperature sensitive than those from the warmer regions. The OTC warming (generally <1 °C temperature increases) over 3 years had no effects on temperature relationship of the soil bacterial community. We estimate that the predicted temperature increase of 2.6 °C for the Antarctic Peninsula would increase Tmin by 0.6–1 °C and Q10 (0–10 °C) by 0.5 units.

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