Now, new research led by a marine microbial ecologist at the University of Georgia is showing for the first time that the roles played by bacteria in coastal waters aren’t nearly as specific as some scientists suspected. In fact, these bacteria are generalists in how they get their nourishment and may have the option of doing many different things, depending on what works best at the time.
While the new research confirms predictions by ecological theorists, it is among the first clear demonstrations at the experimental level that coastal ocean bacteria can act as “tidewater utility infielders,” changing their functions depending on local food supply.
“If you asked me earlier how different species of coastal bacteria use their available food supplies, I would have said each species is optimized for very specialized uses,” said Mary Ann Moran. “But our new research says most are carrying out multiple processes when it comes to carbon cycling.”
The research was just published in the journal Nature. Co-authors on the paper are postdoctoral associate Xiaozhen Mou, bioinformaticist Shulei Sun and professor emeritus Robert Hodson, all of the University of Georgia, and Robert Edwards of San Diego State University.
Learning just how everything works together in the oceans has been a daunting task, but scientists agree that it is crucial. The paper published in Nature specifically examined the metabolic capabilities of bacteria involved in breaking down organic carbon compounds.
Scientists don’t yet understand much about how the various genes in ocean bacteria are packaged together. But as the ocean changes, they would like to model and predict how the processes mediated by the genes could be affected.
Only in the past 15 years have scientists been able to begin identifying the bacteria in oceans at all. Part of this is simply because ocean bacteria are notoriously hard to culture in the lab, and many can’t be cultured yet at all. This makes studying them extremely difficult. New methods, however, are making such studies easier. One of them, which formed the basis for this research, is metagenomics, which bypasses the culturing step entirely by directly sequencing the mixture of bacterial genomes in seawater.
Understanding more about the genomes of bacteria has allowed researchers to ask much narrower questions than ever before, and the result has been a new ability to understand how marine bacteria live and interact in the ocean.
The research in the current study was done in an area off the coast of Sapelo Island, Ga., and while the findings about bacterial generalists may hold true for similar coastal ecosystems, researchers don’t know if the same will be true in deep-ocean or other sea environments.
“We can understand a great deal about the health of the oceans by understanding more about how the bacteria that live in our coastal waters function,” said Moran.
The idea for bacterial generalists isn’t new, but this is the first experimental evidence for marine coastal bacteria as generalists.
Kim Osborne | EurekAlert!
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences