Role of Soil Microbes Key in Carbon Storage, Study Finds

Scientists from Cornell University were part of a recently published study that shows the importance of soil microbes in soil carbon storage. Researchers used a computer model to analyze microbial carbon use efficiency, distinguishing between carbon used by microbes for growth and carbon used for metabolism. When the carbon is used for growth, it becomes sequestered in the soil, but when it’s used for metabolism, it is released to the air as carbon dioxide. “This work reveals that microbial carbon use efficiency is more important than any other factor in determining soil carbon storage,” explains the study’s senior author, Yiqi Luo. Farm management practices that increase microbial carbon use efficiency and promote soil health could be key to sequestering carbon and mitigating climate change.
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