Digging Up Climate Clues in Peat Moss

Joel Kostka wonders how global warming changes soil microbes in Season 3 Episode 8 of ScienceMatters

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Renay San Miguel
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Georgia Tech College of Sciences
404-894-5209

 

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Summary Sentence:

Joel Kostka wonders how global warming changes soil microbes in Season 3 Episode 8 of ScienceMatters.

Full Summary:

Gardeners love peat moss; it’s great for growing plants. But Joel Kostka, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, wonders if it serves as a warning sign for the impact of climate change on plants and microbes. He travels to a unique experimentation site in Minnesota to find answers to his questions. 

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  • Joel Kostka, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Joel Kostka, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
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  • Joel Kostka (left) and postdoctoral assistant Max Kolton at the SPRUCE research facility in Minnesota. Joel Kostka (left) and postdoctoral assistant Max Kolton at the SPRUCE research facility in Minnesota.
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  • A research enclosure at the SPRUCE facility in northern Minnesota. A research enclosure at the SPRUCE facility in northern Minnesota.
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  • A peat bog in northern Minnesota . A peat bog in northern Minnesota .
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  • Sampling ground water at the SPRUCE facility in northern Minnesota. Sampling ground water at the SPRUCE facility in northern Minnesota.
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Not a lot is known right now about how climate change affects microbial communities, according to Georgia Tech scientists. But Joel Kostka is changing that, thanks to his research into how global warming is affecting peat moss, a critical part of Earth's ecology.

Why? "It turns out that peat moss could be one of the most important plants to the global carbon cycle," says Kostka, a professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences."It could store more carbon arguably than any other plant on earth."

Kostka has a National Science Foundation grant to find out more about microbes and their relationship with plants, soil, and other aspects of the environment. Kostka's work, which is already yielding results, is the subject of ScienceMatters Season 3, Episode 8.

Some questions Kostka hopes to answer: How is climate change affecting carbon and nitrogen in our soil? Is it winnowing down microbial diversity? Is it affecting key functions microbes provide for certain plants in the environment?  

Microbiomes are all the microscopic living things in a certain environment, including our bodies. When we get sick, we want to know everything about those microbiomes. There are plenty of questions to answer about the planet’s microbiome as well.

Each ScienceMatters episode includes a quiz that refers to facts mentioned in each podcast. A winner will be chosen randomly from all who submit correct answers. Winners will receive special College of Sciences gifts.

The Episode 8 quiz question:

What nutrient is pulled out of the air by plants thanks to microbes?

The winner will be announced in the following week.

Submit your answer here: https://forms.cos.gatech.edu/clone-sciencematters-season-3-episode-8-quiz 

ScienceMatters podcasts are available for subscription at Apple Podcasts and Soundcloud.

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Additional Information

Groups

College of Sciences, EAS, School of Biological Sciences, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, School of Mathematics, School of Physics, School of Psychology

Categories
Student and Faculty, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Physics and Physical Sciences
Related Core Research Areas
Bioengineering and Bioscience, People and Technology
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Keywords
College of Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Joel Kostka, microbes, climate change, peat moss, nitrogen, nitrogen fixation, SPRUCE
Status
  • Created By: Renay San Miguel
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Nov 4, 2019 - 11:52am
  • Last Updated: Nov 5, 2019 - 10:51am