Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UGA researchers propose new hypothesis on the evolution of hot springs microorganisms

07.06.2006


Since their discovery in the late 1970s, microorganisms known as archaea have fascinated scientists with their ability to thrive where no other life can – in conditions that are extremely hot, acidic or salty.


These hot springs in Nevada, known as the Three Buddhas, harbor microorganisms known as archaea that thrive where no other life can. UGA researcher Chuanlun Zhang and his colleagues have proposed a new hypothesis on the origin of relatives of these hot springs microorganisms that live in low-temperature environments. Credit: University of Georgia



In the 1990s, however, scientists discovered that archaea occur widely in more mundane, low-temperature environments such as oceans and lakes. Now, researchers from the University of Georgia and Harvard University find evidence that these low-temperature archaea might have evolved from a moderate-temperature environment rather than from their high-temperature counterparts – as most scientists had believed. The results appear in the June 2006 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

"Archaea represent one of the three domains of life on Earth," said Chuanlun Zhang, lead author of the study and associate professor of marine sciences at UGA. "Understanding their evolution may shed light on how all life forms evolve and interact with the environment through geological history."


Zhang and his colleagues examined a common group of archaea known as Crenarchaeota. He explains that the Crenarchaeota’s low-temperature success may involve a unique molecule known as crenarchaeol that allows the organism’s cell membrane to remain flexible in cooler environments.

The commonly held theory was that the crenarchaeol is a fairly new feature by evolutionary standards – evolving 112 million years ago during the Cretaceous period, the same period in which dinosaurs became extinct.

Zhang said the problem with this theory is that it puts the arrival of the organisms that contain crenarchaeol, Crenarchaeota, relatively late in geologic history and doesn’t explain how they arose.

By analyzing 17 samples from springs in California, Nevada and Thailand as well as examining data published by other researchers in different environments, Zhang and his colleagues found that crenarchaeol was most commonly found at temperatures of about 104 degrees Fahrenheit. This is well above even the warmest sea surface temperatures during the Cretaceous period, leading them to conclude that the crenarchaeol – and by extension the groups of Crenarchaeota that have the molecule – evolved much earlier than previously thought.

Zhang’s study puts the evolution of Crenarchaeota at 3.5 billion years ago, shortly after life began to emerge on Earth.

"Our study helped us to fill a significant gap about the evolution of Crenarchaeota," Zhang said. "The results show that the biomarker is not unique to the low-temperature environment. On the other hand, all known high-temperature (>158 °F) Crenarchaeota don’t have this biomarker. This suggests that the moderate-temperature Crenarchaeota may be the ancestors to the low-temperature species."

Zhang said understanding these ancient organisms is important to the planet’s future. Most scientists believe that Crenarchaeota play an important role in fixing carbon dioxide, helping sequester the greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Having a better understanding of how abundant Crenarchaeota are and how much carbon they remove can help scientists more accurately model the effects of global warming.

Sam Fahmy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uga.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Scientists shed light on carbon's descent into the deep Earth
19.07.2017 | European Synchrotron Radiation Facility

nachricht Thawing permafrost releases old greenhouse gas
19.07.2017 | GFZ GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Helmholtz Centre

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

Leipzig HTP-Forum discusses "hydrothermal processes" as a key technology for a biobased economy

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create new technique for manipulating polarization of terahertz radiation

20.07.2017 | Information Technology

High-tech sensing illuminates concrete stress testing

20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

First direct observation and measurement of ultra-fast moving vortices in superconductors

20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>