Contribution of soil algae to the global carbon cycle

Vincent E.J. Jassey*, Romain Walcker, Paul Kardol, Stefan Geisen, Thierry Heger, Mariusz Lamentowicz, Samuel Hamard, Enrique Lara

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Soil photoautotrophic prokaryotes and micro-eukaryotes – known as soil algae – are, together with heterotrophic microorganisms, a constitutive part of the microbiome in surface soils. Similar to plants, they fix atmospheric carbon (C) through photosynthesis for their own growth, yet their contribution to global and regional biogeochemical C cycling still remains quantitatively elusive.
Here, we compiled an extensive dataset on soil algae to generate a better understanding of their distribution across biomes and predict their productivity at a global scale by means of machine learning modelling.
We found that, on average, (5.5 ± 3.4) × 106 algae inhabit each gram of surface soil. Soil algal abundance especially peaked in acidic, moist and vegetated soils. We estimate that, globally, soil algae take up around 3.6 Pg C per year, which corresponds to c. 6% of the net primary production of terrestrial vegetation.
We demonstrate that the C fixed by soil algae is crucial to the global C cycle and should be integrated into land-based efforts to mitigate C emissions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-76
JournalNew Phytologist
Volume234
Issue number1
Early online date1 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Keywords

  • biogeography
  • microbial photosynthesis
  • net primary productivity (NPP)
  • photoautotrophs
  • soil carbon (C) cycle
  • soil microbiome

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