Microbial modulators of soil carbon storage: integrating genomic and metabolic knowledge for global prediction

Trends Microbiol. 2013 Dec;21(12):641-51. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2013.09.005. Epub 2013 Oct 18.


Soil organic carbon performs a number of functions in ecosystems and it is clear that microbial communities play important roles in land-atmosphere carbon (C) exchange and soil C storage. In this review, we discuss microbial modulators of soil C storage, 'omics'-based approaches to characterize microbial system interactions impacting terrestrial C sequestration, and how data related to microbial composition and activities can be incorporated into mechanistic and predictive models. We argue that although making direct linkage of genomes to global phenomena is a significant challenge, many connections at intermediate scales are viable with integrated application of new systems biology approaches and powerful analytical and modelling techniques. This integration could enhance our capability to develop and evaluate microbial strategies for capturing and sequestering atmospheric CO2.

Keywords: carbon sequestration; copiotroph; metagenomics; microbial communities; modelling; oligotroph; soil.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Carbon / metabolism*
  • Carbon Cycle
  • Ecosystem
  • Soil / chemistry*
  • Soil Microbiology


  • Soil
  • Carbon