Jennifer Martiny, professor, ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Irvine presents.


The existence of microbial biogeographic patterns is now well established. Two challenges now are to predict how this diversity will respond to global changes and the consequences for ecosystem functioning. Both of these topics can be informed by the consideration of microbial traits: the phenotypic characteristics of microorganisms. As the environment varies it selects for different microbial taxa based on their traits, specifically, their preferences for particular environmental conditions. In turn, the resulting communities alter ecosystem functioning depending on their traits such as the ability to use particular nutrient resources. A focus on traits, therefore, provides a framework for predicting the response of microbial diversity to these environmental changes as well as whether microbially-driven functioning will be altered.