They were discovered over 50 years ago but their origins have remained a mystery. Living in the sediment of the Arctic seabed around Spitsbergen are bacteria that only really thrive in temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius. In fact, the term "living" can only be applied in the loosest of terms, as the bacteria found here exhibit little in the way of metabolic activity and spend their existence as dormant spores.
But it is their metabolism that is of most interest, since some of them are "sulphate-reducing microorganisms" (SRMs) and as such are capable of breaking down organic material in the absence of oxygen and the presence of sulphate. It is precisely this capability that gave the first indications of where these microbial migrants could originate from.FROM THE DEPTHS
To test out this hypothesis, Dr. Loy and his team first used appropriate molecular biological methods to determine the relationships of the thermophilic bacteria. This work, which was supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, focused on 16S rRNA, a component of bacterial "protein factories". Due to the essential nature of 16S rRNA for all living beings, it has changed relatively little over the course of evolution. And these few changes enable scientists to draw conclusions about relationships between bacteria. If two species have some of these changes in common, it can be assumed that they are closely related.RELATIONSHIPS IN PERCENTAGES
Further evidence came from an analysis of the number of endospores present in the Arctic seabed, which was conducted by Dr. Loy's international colleagues. Based on the numbers detected, it has been calculated that 100 million bacterial spores are deposited for each square metre, each year. This was the second key indication of the origin of these bacteria. It is evident that a big enough population must exist to ensure a continuous supply. Only oil fields and ecosystems in the Earth's crust, where high temperatures provide ideal conditions for heat-loving bacteria, could be responsible for such numbers.
If the thermophilic SRMs in Arctic waters do originate from underwater oil springs, the methods used could also have applications in oil exploration. Although this particular aspect was not a focal point of Dr. Loy's FWF project, it could have a very practical side effect.Image and text will be available online from Monday, 18th January 2010, 09.00 a.m. CET onwards:
Research sheds new light on forces that threaten sensitive coastlines
24.04.2017 | Indiana University
NASA sees the end of ex-Tropical Cyclone 02W
21.04.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.04.2017 | Life Sciences