New paper in Nature Communications provides insights into survival, resuscitation and growth of desert soil microorganisms

Desert soil microorganisms endure long droughts in a dormant state and rely on rain events for their reactivation. An international team around Dagmar Woebken, Stefanie Imminger and Dimitri Meier at CeMESS have revealed that biocrust microbial communities are adapted to unpredictable and short-lived rain events. This is mediated via rapid and simultaneous resuscitation of the majority of cells and taxonomical and physiological diverse groups.

Additionally, these microorganisms are prepared for sudden osmotic changes and thus protected from significant cell loss, enabling long-term survival. These mechanisms explain the observed limited productivity stressing the need for biocrust preservation, as biocrusts are essential for desert soil stabilization. As drylands are expanding worldwide, these findings further raise the question how less adapted soil microbial communities will react when faced with increased desiccation stress. 





© S. Imminger und D.V. Meier