Temperature adaptation of bacterial growth and 14C-glucose mineralisation in a laboratory study

Johanna Birgander, Stephanie Reischke, Davey L. Jones, Johannes Rousk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Microbial decomposition of soil organic matter (SOM) is the source of most of the terrestrial carbon dioxide emission. Consequently, our ability to predict how climate warming will affect the global carbon (C) budget relies on our understanding of the temperature relationship and adaptability of microbial processes. We exposed soil microcosms to temperatures between 0 and 54°C for 2 months. After this, bacterial growth (leucine incorporation) and functioning (14C-glucose mineralisation) were estimated at 8 temperatures in the interval 0-54°C to determine temperature relationships and apparent minimum (Tmin) and optimum (Topt) temperatures for growth and mineralisation. We predicted that incubation at temperatures above the initial Topt for bacteria would select for a warm-adapted community, i.e. a positive shift in Tmin and Topt for bacterial growth, and that this adaptation of the bacterial community would coincide with a similar shift also for their functioning. As anticipated, we found that exposure to temperatures below Topt did not change the temperature relationship of bacterial growth or mineralisation. Interestingly, Topt for glucose mineralisation was >20°C higher than that for growth. For bacterial growth, the temperature relationship for the bacterial community was modulated when soils were incubated at temperature above their initial Topt (≈30°C). This was shown by an increase in Tmin of 0.8°C for every 1°C increase in soil temperature, evidencing a shift towards warm-adapted bacteria. Similarly, the Q10 (15-25°C) for bacterial growth increased at temperature higher than Topt. We could not detect a corresponding temperature adaptation of the decomposer functioning. We discuss possible underlying reasons for the temperature-responses of bacterial processes. We note that a temperature adaptation will be rapid when exceeding the Topt, which initially were >20°C higher for glucose mineralisation than growth. This difference could suggest that different responses to warming exposure should be expected for these microbial processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-303
Number of pages10
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


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