Anyone who wants to slow down the extinction of species and climate change must also take microorganisms into account in their calculations, argues the prominent director of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, Antje Boetius.
Also pay attention to the little ones
The smallest inhabitants of the earth react significantly to temperature changes, drought and floods. Together with 31 other microbiologists from all over the world, she appealed in the journal Nature not to underestimate the central role and global importance of microorganisms in the biology of climate change – and to keep their diversity in mind.
Man-made behavior has a negative impact on wild type diversity among microorganisms and this is relevant because life is not just a collection of individual species. Antje Boetius compares the earth to a blue spaceship – the life on it is part of the crew.
If individual crew members fail – no matter how small – this could have catastrophic consequences, the expert said in the TR interview. “A shining example of how things can go really wrong with the relationship between microbes and their hosts are tropical coral reefs,” says Boetius. The melting of the Arctic sea ice is also accompanied by an enormous loss of diversity. These dying life zones in turn have an impact on material cycles in the area. There are many examples of feedback mechanisms, but no global coverage yet.
Technology Review 5/2022 im heise shop
What does it take to protect biodiversity on earth? And why is that so important? The new issue of MIT Technology Review provides answers. The booklet is available from 7.7. in stores and from 6.7. easy to order in the heise shop. Highlights from the magazine:
However, one thing is clear: the network of micro- and macroscopic organisms reacts collectively and we can do something to preserve microbial biodiversity. “Through the way we treat the environment, what we use for cleaning, how warm it is at home, how dry the soil gets, what seeds we sow,” we could actively influence the diversity of the microbiome, according to the marine biologist.
In order to protect us, the same value must be attached to monitoring and understanding biodiversity in terms of research policy as to climate research, she demands: “There are too few funding programs and far too few regions on earth where biodiversity research takes place.”
In the interview with Antje Boetius in the current issue 05/2022 of MIT Technology Review (in the well sorted newsagents and in the heise shop). (jsc)
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