How human activity alters soil microbes around the world

Adding nitrogen and phosphorous to the soil beneath grasslands shifts the natural communities of fungi, bacteria, and microscopic organisms called archaea that live in the soil.

Scientists associated with the Nutrient Network, a global grid of scientists who investigate ecological responses in grasslands around the world, reveal that microbial community responses to fertilizer inputs were globally consistent and reflected plant responses to the inputs.

Many soil microbes perform helpful functions to their native ecosystems, and altering those microbial communities may have negative environmental consequences, says Kirsten Hofmockel, an associate professor in the Iowa State University department of ecology, evolution, and organismal biology.

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