Microbes and Climate Change
Microbes and Climate Change
Source: American Academy of Microbiology

As the most abundant organisms on Earth, microorganisms make considerable contributions to, and are greatly affected by, a changing climate. Microbes are major drivers of elemental cycles (such as carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus), important producers and consumers of greenhouse gases, and pertinent pathogens of humans, animals and plants. It is critical to learn how the impacts of a changing climate will impact microbes and their relationships with humans and the environment. On April 22, 2022, the American Academy of Microbiology (Academy), the honorific leadership group of ASM, published a report based on the deliberations of experts who participated in a colloquium on November 2021. The Academy's Climate Change and Microbes Scientific Portfolio is a committment to continue focusing on understanding the relationship between microbes and climate change over the next 5 years. 

Attend Climate Change Session at Microbe

Cross disciplinary science is a necessary mindset to address issues related to climate change. Microbes play a critical role in mediating climate change but are often overlooked in scientific discussion. Thus, bringing microbes into climate conversations with other disciplines and sectors is a must. Learn more and meet experts in the field at ASM Microbe 2022. Join us on June 9 for a half-day mini conference in Washington, D.C. to discuss the report. On June 10, the Chair of the Academy Governors will invite distinguished experts in diverse scientific areas to discuss the current "hot" topics in climate change & microbes. Participants must be registered for Microbe to attend. 

Advocating for Climate Change Reform


Microbes and Society
Source: Robinson et al. 2022

ASM advocates for continued support for research and policies that facilitate the translation of microbial research to real-world, scalable solutions in renewable energy, water quality and sustainable ecosystems. These efforts will require Congressional support and interagency coordination on an unusually grand scale.

As ASM works with policymakers to ensure that science is front and center in policy approaches to climate change, we strongly encourage scientists to bring their expertise to bear on climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience.

Policy Statements

Microbes and the environment
Source: Figure modified from Cavicchioli et al. 2019.

Hear From Experts

Panel Discussion


Microbes are adept at adapting, surviving and thriving in extreme and constantly changing environments. ASM leadership hosted a virtual panel during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Science Summit discussing the role and contribution of science to the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs include 17 interconnecting global objectives identified by the UN as a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all" by 2030.

Microbes Are Critical to Soil Health

Microbes play a critical role in the functioning of soils, which are a key natural resource in adapting to and mitigating climate change. 

Watch the Webinar


Mallory Choudoir, microbial ecologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst shares how she leverages microbial culture collections to infer ecological and evolutionary responses to warming soil temperature.

Sanghoon Kang, an assistant professor of biology at Baylor University, talks about the impacts of climate change on infectious diseases. 

Wayne Curtis discusses engineering microbes for products like biofuel using the metabolically flexible bacterium Rhodobacter and other microorganisms. 

Christine Foreman explains how microbes can survive and grow on glaciers, and what we can learn from microbes in glacier ice cores.

Climate Change