Industrialization, urbanization, progress in modern medicine and technological innovations shaped our environment and the way we live our lives. However, besides exciting advances, this global change has negative economic, ecological and social effects. What role do microorganisms have in this global challenge? Climate change can affect microbial community structure and function in the ocean and soil and change host-microbiota interactions with potentially severe consequences for food production, carbon cycling and disease spread. By contrast, microorganisms could also be used to mitigate the effects of climate change. An integrated and informed approach is required to scale up our global response to climate change.
Nature Reviews Microbiology addresses the relationship between microorganisms and global change and considers the wider environmental and health challenges in a new article series on Global change.
Access the articles in this series online.
In a Comment, Antje Boetius explores global change microbiology and discusses how this field could provide essential knowledge and sustainable solutions.
In a Viewpoint article, several experts discuss the microbial contributions to climate change.
Sonnenburg and Sonnenburg explore in a Opinion article whether individuals in the industrialized world may be harbouring a microbial community that is now incompatible with human biology, and they hypothesize that the modern, industrial lifestyle has contributed to alterations in the microbiota that may be linked to the deterioration of human health.
In a Review, Huisman and colleagues discuss bloom formation, the impact of eutrophication and climate change, and measures to prevent and control cyanobacterial blooms.
In a Progress article, Bertagnolli and Stewart describe the ecological and functional diversity of the microbial communities that inhabit these zones and their contribution to biogeochemical cycles.
More articles to be included in this ongoing series!