Peatlands play a critical role in the global carbon cycle, storing between 21 and 30 percent of the world’s soil organic carbon. Drained peatlands are estimated to account for 25 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and 5 percent of the EUs total emissions. Peat physicochemical variables and microbial activity act as strong controls on the decomposition of soil organic matter and dissolved organic matter composition. Microbial communities also play an important role in peatland ecosystems. They are highly divers and dependent on the type of peatland. These communities show different responses to peatland rewetting and drainage.

While these phenomena have been researched individually, we know very little about the link between dissolved organic matter composition and microbial communities in peatland soils. This research project will investigate the relationship between microbial community composition and carbon quantity and quality over a wide range of peatlands, as well as its potential consequences for carbon cycling and greenhouse gas emissions. It will primarily utilize research sited and networks already in place, but where these specific interests have not been investigated. This way, valuable historical management and physicochemical data can be utilized. In order to increase spatial coverage, additional research sites will be added. This project brings together the fields of microbial ecology, aquatic biogeochemistry and soil sciences and spans across countries to address this important issue holistically.

Project Leader: Kyle Boodoo, Department of Geography and Regional Research

Co-Pi: Petra Pjevac, Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science