The Effect of Environmental Factors on Bacteria Associated with Sphagnum Mosses
Sexton, William Kyle
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Sphagnum peat mosses play an important role in the global carbon cycle by sequestering carbon as biomass thorough photosynthesis. Biodegradation in the northern peatlands is slow in part due to acidic and nutrient-poor soil conditions, so biomass accumulates over time as peat. Sphagnum mosses partner with bacteria that fix atmospheric nitrogen to supplement their nitrogen intake in these nutrient-poor soils. Climate change is altering temperatures, precipitation, and nitrogen deposition rates in the northern peatlands. These changes are accompanied by an increased release of greenhouse gases and a decline in Sphagnum ground coverage. The nitrogen-fixing bacteria associated with Sphagnum mosses need to be studied in order to understand how their relationship will be impacted by climate change. In this study I show that higher pH levels and nutrient concentrations can negatively impact the growth of potential nitrogen-fixing bacteria associated with two species of Sphagnum mosses. I also demonstrate that bacteria associated with these mosses overall are adapted to low-nitrogen conditions and a wide pH range.