Vegetation and microbes interact to preserve carbon in many wooded peatlands

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<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Peatlands have persisted as massive carbon sinks over millennia, even during past periods of climate change. The commonly accepted theory of abiotic controls (mainly anoxia and low temperature) over carbon decomposition cannot fully explain how vast low-latitude shrub/tree dominated (wooded) peatlands consistently accrete peat under warm and seasonally unsaturated conditions. Here we show, by comparing the composition and ecological traits of microbes between <jats:italic>Sphagnum</jats:italic>- and shrub-dominated peatlands, that slow-growing microbes decisively dominate the studied shrub-dominated peatlands, concomitant with plant-induced increases in highly recalcitrant carbon and phenolics. The slow-growing microbes metabolize organic matter thirty times slower than the fast-growing microbes that dominate our <jats:italic>Sphagnum</jats:italic>-dominated site. We suggest that the high-phenolic shrub/tree induced shifts in microbial composition may compensate for positive effects of temperature and/or drought on metabolism over time in peatlands. This biotic self-sustaining process that modulates abiotic controls on carbon cycling may improve projections of long-term, climate-carbon feedbacks in peatlands.</jats:p>






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Wang, H, J Tian, H Chen, M Ho, R Vilgalys, ZJ Bu, X Liu, CJ Richardson, et al. (2021). Vegetation and microbes interact to preserve carbon in many wooded peatlands. Communications Earth & Environment, 2(1). 10.1038/s43247-021-00136-4 Retrieved from

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