Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

U of C alumnus finds high numbers of heat-loving bacteria in cold Arctic Ocean

21.09.2009
Results point to potential use of microbes in offshore oil and gas exploration

A team of scientists led by U of C grad Casey Hubert has detected high numbers of heat loving, or thermophilic, bacteria in subzero sediments in the Arctic Ocean off the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen.

The bacterial spores might provide a unique opportunity to trace seepages of fluids from hot sub-seafloor habitats, possibly pointing towards undiscovered offshore petroleum reservoirs.

These thermophiles exist in the Arctic Ocean sediment as spores — dormant forms that withstand adverse conditions for long periods, waiting for better times. Experimental incubations at 40 to 60 degrees Celsius revive the Arctic spores, which appear to have been transported from deeper hot spots.

"The genetic similarities to bacteria from hot offshore oil reservoirs are striking," says Hubert. After completing his PhD in petroleum microbiology at University of Calgary, Hubert traveled to Bremen, Germany, with an NSERC post-doctoral fellowship to study the Arctic thermophiles at the renowned Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology. "We expect ongoing surveys will pin-point the source, or sources, of these misplaced microbes. This could have interesting applications if they are really coming up from leaky petroleum reservoirs."

Because these bacteria are anaerobic, their high abundance and steady supply into the sediments indicate they are coming from a huge oxygen-free habitat. Hubert says one source could be a deep pressurized oil reservoir from which upward-leaking hydrocarbons carry bacteria into overlying seawater. Another source could be related to fluid circulation through warm ocean crust at spreading ridges where "black smokers" and other hydrothermal vents are present. The thermophiles must be getting carried out of one of these abyssal hot spots and may be dispersed by ocean currents before ending up as hibernating spores in the cold sediments, where they were discovered.

"We hope further experiments and genetic forensics will reveal the warm source," adds Max Planck Director Prof. Bo Barker Jørgensen.

While the spores might provide an opportunity to track marine hot spots, they also offer fresh insight for understanding biodiversity and the "hidden rare biosphere." The dominant bacterial species in a given environment obscure many minor groups that don't seem to participate in ecosystem functioning. Dormant thermophiles in the cold ocean could be a useful model for understanding how biodiversity is maintained by the passive dispersal of small cells over great distances. "The Arctic thermophiles could hold important clues for solving broader riddles of bio-geography," says Hubert.

A Constant Flux of Diverse Thermophilic Bacteria into the Cold Arctic Seabed by Casey Hubert, Alexander Loy, Maren Nickel, Carol Arnosti, Christian Baranyi, Volker Brüchert, Timothy Ferdelman, Kai Finster, Flemming Mønsted Christensen, Júlia Rosa de Rezende, Verona Vandieken, and Bo Barker Jørgensen, will be published in the journal Science on September 18, 2009. www.sciencemag.org

This research was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Max Planck Society, the Austrian Science Fund, and the US National Science Foundation.

Leanne Yohemas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucalgary.ca

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

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

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: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Los Alamos researchers and supercomputers help interpret the latest LIGO findings

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Study shows how water could have flowed on 'cold and icy' ancient Mars

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Navigational view of the brain thanks to powerful X-rays

18.10.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>