Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Microbes active in Colorado snows fuel tundra ecosystem

05.09.2003


Populations of fungi blanketed by Colorado’s snows are more active and diverse than previously thought, and are likely responsible for the productivity of the tundra ecosystem they are a part of, according to findings by scientists funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) and Microbial Observatories programs. The researchers have published their results in this week’s issue of the journal Science.


"Microbial-level investigations are integral to developing an overall understanding of the alpine ecology at Niwot Ridge LTER site in the Colorado front range."
Photo by Timothy Seastedt, Niwot LTER



Christopher Schadt, now of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and a former graduate student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said "the discovery should help scientists gain greater insight into decomposition rates, carbon cycles and the roles of individual fungi in those processes." Surprisingly, the number of active microorganisms in tundra soils, for at least the top 10 centimeters, (about four inches) peaks when the soils are covered with snow. Schadt and colleagues performed their research at the Niwot Ridge, Colo., LTER site. Niwot Ridge is located some 12,000 feet atop the Rocky Mountains.

"The finding that microorganisms are interacting with tundra soils to a great extent highlights the important role of the snowpack in creating a unique and crucial environment in tundra ecosystems in Colorado and likely in other locations that are covered with snow for long periods of time in winter," said Henry Gholz, LTER program director at NSF.


Metabolism of snow-covered microbes is an important biogeochemical "sink," or way of storing, nitrogen. "The subsequent release in spring of nitrogen from the microbes’ metabolism is a major contributor to the relatively high productivity during the short growing season in the tundra," said Steven Schmidt of the University of Colorado at Boulder, a co-author of the Science paper, and leader of the research team.

Schadt, Schmidt, and colleagues Andrew Martin of the University of Colorado and David Lipson of San Diego State University also found that fungi account for most of the biomass of the tundra, which undergoes significant seasonal changes. The researchers discovered that about 40 percent of the fungi in their samples were previously unknown. DNA sequencing enabled them to identify fungi that may hold answers to other questions about the tundra ecology in Colorado and in other locations around the world.

Cheryl Dybas | NSF
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>