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 A promising target in the quest for a 1-million-year-old Antarctic ice core
24.05.2018 | University of Washington

nachricht Tropical Peat Swamps: Restoration of Endangered Carbon Reservoirs
24.05.2018 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>