The answer is not necessarily “both.” According to a study published online this week in PNAS Early Edition, the explosion of species at the tropics has much more to do with warmth than with light.
“The diversity was unrelated to productivity (from photosynthesis), but it was strongly related to temperature,” said University of Southern California biologist Jed Fuhrman, who led a group that analyzed bacterial samples from warm and cold oceans.
Fuhrman’s group found far greater diversity in samples taken near the equator. In particular, samples from low-productivity waters still contained many bacterial species, suggesting that photosynthesis has little influence on diversity.
Many researchers have tried to separate the influence of temperature and sunlight, Fuhrman said, but have found it hard to do by studying higher organisms.
Bacteria are ideal subjects because of their wide distribution and the recent availability of genetic fingerprinting, he added.
The question of what drives diversity is important to biologists who seek to uncover the basic rules governing life.
“Is diversity ruled by fundamental laws, and if so, what is the basis of them?” Fuhrman asked.
The so-called kinetic law links the rates of metabolism, reproduction and many other biological processes to the motion of atoms and molecules. Such motion increases with temperature, presumably speeding up the biological processes.
Fuhrman calls this “the Red Queen runs faster when she is hot” hypothesis.
Productivity also is thought to promote diversity by increasing the food supply. This is “the larger pie can be divided into more pieces” hypothesis.
The two hypotheses may both be valid, Fuhrman said, but his group’s results show that “the kinetics of metabolism, setting the pace for life, has strong influence on diversity.”
Biologists have known for centuries that animal and plant biodiversity is greatest at the tropics, though they have not agreed on whether temperature or productivity was the cause.
The Fuhrman group is the first to show that bacteria follow the same pattern. And as the PNAS study shows, bacteria are useful vehicles for probing the causes of biodiversity.
Fuhrman, holder of the McCulloch-Crosby Chair for Marine Biology in the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, has been studying bacteria since the early 1980s, when new instruments and techniques greatly improved scientists’ ability to identify microbial species.
Since then, marine biologists have realized that bacteria play a dominant role in the oceans. More than half the carbon dioxide respired by marine organisms comes from bacteria, Fuhrman said. Bacteria also comprise most of the diversity on earth, control vital biogeochemical cycles, and form an integral part of the food chain.
“I study them because, even though they’re invisible, they’re incredibly important,” Fuhrman said.
Carl Marziali | EurekAlert!
Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
07.12.2016 | Life Sciences
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine