Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Smithsonian Scientists Discover Tropical Tree Microbiome in Panama

16.09.2014

Human skin and gut microbes influence processes from digestion to disease resistance. Despite the fact that tropical forests are the most biodiverse terrestrial ecosystems on the planet, more is known about belly-button bacteria than bacteria on trees in the tropics.

Smithsonian scientists and colleagues working on Panama’s Barro Colorado Island discovered that small leaf samples from a single tree were home to more than 400 different kinds of bacteria. The combined sample from 57 tree species contained more than 7,000 different kinds.


Bacteria in tropical forests may also play a vital role, protecting leaves against pathogens and even affecting the ability of forests to respond to climate change.

“Just as people are realizing that microbes carried by humans can have an influence on a person’s health—positive or negative—we hope to discover what bacteria on tree leaves can tell us about the health of a forest,” said S. Joseph Wright, a Smithsonian scientist and co-author of the new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In contrast to a previous study of bacteria on leaves in a temperate forest where different leaves had different bacteria, there was a core group of species of common bacteria present on leaves of nearly all of the species sampled in Panama. Just as on human skin, many of the bacteria on tropical tree leaves were Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria.

The researchers, from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, University of Quebec, University of Arizona, University of Oregon, University of California—Los Angeles and Santa Fe Institute, also looked for relationships between the composition of bacterial communities on leaves and other plant characteristics.

Many bacteria were associated with certain functional traits such as leaf thickness, wood density or leaf nitrogen content, characteristics that directly impact tree growth, survival and reproduction.

The relationships between many of the bacteria and tree species they sampled were ancient, going back to the ancestors of both the bacteria and the trees as they evolved in tandem.

“Our ability to use molecular techniques like 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing to characterize nearly all of the bacteria on a leaf is going to make it possible to see how very different members of forest communities interact,” said Wright. The Smithsonian forest ecologist and his colleagues hope to collaborate with researchers at the 60 Forest Global Earth Observatory sites coordinated by the Smithsonian’s Center for Tropical Forest Science to compare interactions at different sites and under different environmental conditions.

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, headquartered in Panama City, Panama, is a unit of the Smithsonian Institution. The Institute furthers the understanding of tropical nature and its importance to human welfare, trains students to conduct research in the tropics and promotes conservation by increasing public awareness of the beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems. Website: www.stri.si.edu.

Kembel, S.W., O’Connor, T.K., Arnold, H.K., Hubbell, S.P., Wright, S.J. and Green, J.L. 2014 Relationships between phyllosphere bacterial communities and plant functional traits in a neotropical forest. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. early online edition: www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1216057111.

Media only       
Beth King      
+507 212-8216
kingb@si.edu

Sean Mattson 
+507 212-8290
mattsons@si.edu

Media website     
STRI News Releases

Beth King | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://newsdesk.si.edu/releases/smithsonian-scientists-discover-tropical-tree-microbiome-panama

Further reports about: Microbiome Panama bacteria bacterial forests leaves relationships species traits tropical

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Six-legged livestock -- sustainable food production
11.05.2017 | Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen

nachricht Elephant Herpes: Super-Shedders Endanger Young Animals
04.05.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

Im Focus: Hydrogen Bonds Directly Detected for the First Time

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

Media accreditation opens for historic year at European Health Forum Gastein

16.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New approach to revolutionize the production of molecular hydrogen

22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences

Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus

22.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Experts explain origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars and Titan

22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>