The discovery opens up a new realm of research into an element that’s used for reproduction, energy storage and structural materials in every organism. Its understanding is vital to the continued quest to understand the growth of the oceans. The research appears in the May 2, 2008 edition of the journal Science.
Ellery Ingall, associate professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, along with Ph.D. student Julia Diaz, collected organisms and sediments along an inlet near Vancouver Island in British Columbia. During their investigation on the boat, Diaz used a traditional optical microscope to discover that diatoms, microscopic organisms that live in oceans and damp surfaces, were storing blobs of very dense concentrations of phosphorus called polyphosphates.
“These polyphosphates have been missed in classic studies because they haven’t been recovered by the typical measurement techniques,” said Ingall. “No one measured or treated the samples because no one knew they were there – they didn’t even think to look for it.”
For a long time, scientists have been unable to account for the difference in the amount of phosphorus that’s in the oceans and the amount that’s washed in from rivers.
“We’re getting the initial clues as to how this phosphorus gets to the bottom of the oceans,” said Diaz. “These diatoms are sinking from the top to the bottom of the ocean, and as they’re sinking, they’re transporting the phosphorus in the form of intracellular polyphosphate.”
After making their initial discovery, the team made another. They went to Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago to delve deeper and found that some of the blobs were polyphosphate, some were a mineral known as apatite, and some were a transitional material between the two.
Now that they’ve proved a link between polyphosphate and apatite, they’re next step is to try and capture the chemical transition between the two by running controlled experiments in the lab.
David Terraso | newswise
Scientists on the road to discovering impact of urban road dust
18.01.2018 | University of Alberta
Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk
17.01.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.
Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
23.01.2018 | Life Sciences
23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences
23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy