Scientists have discovered microbes that live in the soil of wildfires. When all else fails, some fungi and bacteria do not know how to reproduce, but a new project aims to change that.
Over the next three years, UC Riverside scientists will spend the next three years studying the properties of soil microbes that react to fire, as well as their role in storing or emitting greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide.
The project is funded by a $ 849,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Food and Agriculture Organization.
“Very little is known about which microbes react to fire, or why, or how they affect the rest of the environment,” says UCR Mycologist Geologist Glasman. “We want to know how fungi and bacteria affect soil emissions after a fire.”
To answer their questions, Glassman and UCR environmental scientist Pet Homayak are removing soil from two major and nearby burn scars — the 2018 Holy Fire in the Orange and Riverside Provinces and the 2020 El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino, known as the “Sex of Revelation.” County
Check that the rest of the microbes are similar in characteristics to plants that can grow after a fire.
One such feature is the ability to reproduce rapidly. “There are so many places to open after a fire. If they are sexually promiscuous, they can colonize the area, especially by multiplying rapidly, ”said Glasman.
The second quality is the ability to ‘eat’ on burnt objects. Fire converts trees to coal, leaf matter to wax, and releases large amounts of nitrogen. Most microbes do not prefer high levels of nitrogen. However, the researchers believe that few can eat it on a charcoal or nitrogen or wax diet.
In addition, there are some plants that can easily withstand high temperatures. Microbes can be the same. “There is some evidence of spores that are thermalistist or even need heat to reproduce,” Glassman said.
Future projects will help to restore not only the properties of post-fire microbes but also the pre-fire fungus and bacteria in the soil.
In a separate but related study, team members are constantly trying to identify the effects of the flame being added to large areas of forest. Some of these chemicals store phosphorus and nitrogen for decades. The impact of that on microbes is still unclear.
“Fire has a very strong effect on soil chemistry, and the main factors that deal with those effects are microbes,” Glassman said. “Survivors convert to carbon and nitrogen, which regulates production. That is why we think they are so important to understand.
(Cover Image: Pate Pattina / Getty Images)