Climate Change and the Microbiome

Contributed by Azarene Foutouhi

While the ecological implications of climate change are well established, recent studies have pointed to changes in the microbiome as a casualty of the warming Earth. Studies testing the effects of temperature changes on the gut microbiomes of ectotherms such as lizards, temperature increases resulted in significant changes in microbiome composition. Researchers reported animals living in temperatures 3°C higher than control groups living at normal environmental temperatures suffered a 34% reduction in microbiome diversity. Resampling months later indicated this loss was driven by the extinction of individual bacterial taxa, and that the lizards with richer microbiomes tended to live a year longer. Future work will investigate the effect of increasing temperatures on the microbiomes of non-ectotherms and will help us understand previously unconsidered consequences of climate change.


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