Adapting to environmental change

Ellen Fry, Feng Zhu, Bethan Greenwood

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Unprecedented climate change, pollutants and habitat alterations are causing abiotic stress across all plants and animals. Global increases in temperature, as well as decreases in pH in the ocean, have already caused microbiome dysbiosis in a range of species, and previously commensal microbes have turned pathogenic in response to extreme environmental conditions. This will have far-reaching consequences for host survival and associated ecosystem functions. However, host microbiomes may actually be the key to buffering these unprecedented environmental changes. The host microbiome contains massive genetic potential, and their vast numbers, high turnover, wide metabolic scope and short generation times may afford opportunities for faster acclimatisation and adaptation. Examples of this already exist, although responses are likely to be highly context-dependent. It is becoming increasingly clear that preservation of the microbiome is likely to be the key to maintaining healthy ecosystems in an uncertain future. However, there are still large knowledge gaps in almost every area, which need to be urgently addressed so we can apply conservation efforts in a judicious manner.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMicrobiomes of soils, plants and animals
Subtitle of host publicationan integrated approach
EditorsRachael E. Antwis, Xavier A. Harrison, Michael J. Cox
Place of PublicationUK
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781108654418
ISBN (Print)9781108462488, 9781108473712
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

Publication series

NameEcological Reviews


  • adaptive bleaching hypothesis
  • climate change
  • CO2 fertilisation effect
  • coral bleaching
  • nutrient cycles
  • pH
  • pollution
  • reactive oxygen species
  • temperature
  • water availability


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