Grassland Study Examines Soil Viral Diversity in Drought Conditions
Research could help predict soil dynamics
Viral communities across a grassland area are not uniform, and understanding viral dynamics could lead to better insight into how bacteria in soil will react to drought and other climate changes, according to research out of UC Davis.
Viruses can affect microbes, the food web, the carbon cycle and other ecosystem processes, including controlling bacteria.
The research, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, centered on examining viral responses in soil to differences in rainfall. Over three years, a team monitored grassland plots, with one set of plots receiving 50 percent of the average rainfall.
They found that viral diversity and composition in soils varied, and viruses reacted rather quickly to low-water conditions regardless of location, said plant pathologist Joanne B. Emerson, a principal investigator on the research and the paper’s corresponding author.
“We already know that bacteria are really important,” said Emerson, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Plant Pathology. “We’ve just started to learn more about soil viruses, and viruses are key to controlling the bacteria.”
The findings could help better understand and predict soil dynamics.
The lead author on the paper is Christian Santos-Medellín, a postdoctoral researcher from the Department of Plant Pathology. Scientists from UC Berkeley, UC Merced and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory contributed to the research.
Click here for more information about the research paper.