Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Amazon deforestation brings loss of microbial communities

Date:
December 26, 2012
Source:
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Summary:
An international team of microbiologists has found that a troubling net loss in diversity among the microbial organisms responsible for a functioning ecosystem is accompanying deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. This is important because the combination of lost forest species and the homogenization of pasture communities together signal that this ecosystem is now a lot less capable of dealing with additional outside stress.

The Amazon Rainforest containing thousands of plant species (background) is converted to a pasture. First hard timber is removed, followed by fire and sowing of a single exotic grass species.
Credit: UMass Amherst

An international team of microbiologists led by Klaus Nüsslein of the University of Massachusetts Amherst has found that a troubling net loss in diversity among the microbial organisms responsible for a functioning ecosystem is accompanying deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

Nüsslein, an expert in tropical rain forest microbial soil communities, says, "We found that after rainforest conversion to agricultural pastures, bacterial communities were significantly different from those of forest soils. Not only did the pasture soils show increased species numbers, these species were also less related to one another than in rainforest soil. This is important because the combination of lost forest species and the homogenization of pasture communities together signal that this ecosystem is now a lot less capable of dealing with additional outside stress."

He and colleagues studied a large farm site over the past four years at the frontier where farmers drive agriculture into pristine rainforest in Rondonia, Brazil, to convert rainforest to agricultural use. Findings in part validated previous research showing that bacteria in the soil became more diverse after conversion to pasture. However, in its fourth year, their study overcame limitations of earlier investigations to show that changes in microbial diversity occurred over larger geographic scales. Results appear in the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In addition to Nüsslein at UMass Amherst, the research group includes first author Jorge Rodrigues at the University of Texas at Arlington with Brendan Bohannan at the University of Oregon, James Tiedje at Michigan State University, and others at the University of Sao Paulo. Lead investigators Nüsslein and Rodrigues emphasize that the study is an equal collaboration among the four research groups.

Findings do not support earlier study conclusions, instead they show that the loss of restricted ranges for different bacteria communities results in a biotic homogenization and net loss of diversity overall. Scientists worry that the loss of genetic variation in bacteria across a converted forest could reduce ecosystem resilience. The researchers hope their work will provide valuable data to those making decisions about the future of the Amazon rainforest.

Biologist and first author Jorge Rodrigues of the University of Texas at Arlington adds, "We have known for a long time that conversion of rainforest land in the Amazon for agriculture results in a loss of biodiversity in plants and animals. Now we know that microbial communities which are so important to the ecosystem also suffer significant losses."

As Nüsslein and colleagues point out, the Amazon represents half of the world's rainforest and is home to one-third of Earth's species, yet the Amazon has one of the highest rates of deforestation. Agriculture is one of the largest and most dynamic parts of Brazil's economy, so dealing with standing rainforests in the tropics will be tricky, but nevertheless, it is vital that the issue is tackled."

Rodrigues says he and colleagues are currently compiling findings about the potential for recovery of the microbial diversity after pastureland is abandoned and returned to "secondary forest." At the same time, Nüsslein and colleagues are leading an effort to investigate how the redundancy of functions provided by soil microbes provides resilience to the effects of agricultural land use change to support a stressed ecosystem to recover stability.

"Whether bacterial diversity will completely recover from ecosystem conversion will depend in part on whether the taxa lost due to conversion are truly locally extinct or whether they are present in the pasture sites but of such low abundance that they are undetectable in our study," the authors write.

This work was supported by grants from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Research Support Foundation of the State of São Paulo.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. L. M. Rodrigues, V. H. Pellizari, R. Mueller, K. Baek, E. d. C. Jesus, F. S. Paula, B. Mirza, G. S. Hamaoui, S. M. Tsai, B. Feigl, J. M. Tiedje, B. J. M. Bohannan, K. Nusslein. Conversion of the Amazon rainforest to agriculture results in biotic homogenization of soil bacterial communities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1220608110

Cite This Page:

University of Massachusetts at Amherst. "Amazon deforestation brings loss of microbial communities." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121226080908.htm>.
University of Massachusetts at Amherst. (2012, December 26). Amazon deforestation brings loss of microbial communities. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121226080908.htm
University of Massachusetts at Amherst. "Amazon deforestation brings loss of microbial communities." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121226080908.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) — The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) — A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Deforestation in the Amazon Equals Net Losses of Diversity for Microbial Communities

Dec. 26, 2012 — Research from an international team of microbiologists has revealed a new concern about deforestation in the Amazon rainforest -- a troubling net loss in the diversity among the microbial organisms ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins