95th ESA Annual Meeting (August 1 -- 6, 2010)

SS 20 - Micro-Managing the Planet: The Role of Microbial Ecology in Planetary Stewardship

Wednesday, August 4, 2010: 8:00 PM-10:00 PM
303-304, David L Lawrence Convention Center
Angela Kent
Anthony Yannarell and Jay T. Lennon
Chris Schadt , Teri C. Balser and Todd R. Miller
Microbial ecology is closely linked to ecosystem function and environmental quality. Without microorganisms, soils would be depleted of fertility and buried under layers of litter, natural and synthetic chemicals would accumulate to toxic levels in the environment, and ecosystems would cease to support life.
 Microbes maintain ecosystem services such as organic matter processing, carbon cycling, and nitrogen fixation that influence agricultural productivity, water quality, and sustainability of the biosphere. Microbial populations also contribute to processes that degrade environmental quality, such as greenhouse gas production, contamination, and harmful algal blooms. Harnessing beneficial microbial processes and transformation of xenobiotic contaminants may be the key to conservation, restoration and sustainable management of damaged ecosystems. Failure to appreciate the ecology of microbial communities and their contributions to the functioning of a healthy ecosystem may limit the success of efforts to mitigate or restore microbially-mediated functions. The purpose of this session is to discuss strategies for explicit incorporation of microbial ecology into environmental conservation and stewardship activities, and to identify topics for proposed symposia at the 2010 ESA annual meeting. Microbial ecology topics relevant to this discussion include: — restoration of microbially-mediated ecosystem services (denitrification, carbon storage) — ecological engineering (harnessing microbial processes to improve water quality) — bioremediation — soil microbiology and fertility (sustainable management, carbon sequestration) — harmful algal blooms — bioenergy A series of short talks will introduce these topics, followed by a panel discussion. Discussion will also focus on funding opportunities in these areas.
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