Direct and indirect effects of climate change on soil microbial and soil microbial-plant interactions: What lies ahead?

Global change is altering species distributions and thus interactions among organisms. Organisms live in concert with thousands of other species, some beneficial, some pathogenic, some which have little to no effect in complex communities. Since natural communities are composed of organisms with very different life history traits and dispersal ability it is unlikely they will all respond to climatic change in a similar way. Disjuncts in plant-pollinator and plant-herbivore interactions under global change have been relatively well described, but plant-soil microorganism and soil microbe-microbe relationships have received less attention. Since soil microorganisms regulate nutrient transformations, provide plants with nutrients, allow co-existence among neighbors, and control plant populations, changes in soil microorganism-plant interactions could have significant ramifications for plant community composition and ecosystem function. In this paper we explore how climatic change affects soil microbes and soil microbe-plant interactions directly and indirectly, discuss what we see as emerging and exciting questions and areas for future research, and discuss what ramifications changes in these interactions may have on the composition and function of ecosystems.