If you’re an avid gardener, you may have considered peat moss — decomposed Sphagnum moss that helps retain moisture in soil — to enhance your home soil mixture. And while the potting medium can help plants thrive, it’s also a key component of peatlands: wetlands characterized by a thick layer of water-saturated, carbon-rich peat beneath living Sphagnum moss, trees, and other plant life.

These ecosystems cover just 3% of Earth’s land area, but “peatlands store over one-third of all soil carbon on the planet,” explains Joel Kostka, professor and associate chair of Research in the School of Biological Sciences at Georgia Tech.

This carbon storage is supported in large part by microbes. Two microbial processes in particular — nitrogen fixation and methane oxidation — strike a delicate balance, working together to give Sphagnum mosses access to critical nutrients in nutrient-depleted peatlands. Read more at: Georgia Institute of Technology

Source: ENN

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