Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Archaea: Four cells turn seabed microbiology upside down

28.03.2013
With DNA from just four cells, Danish researchers reveal how some of the world’s most abundant organisms play a key role in carbon cycling in the seabed.

Single-celled archaea are invisible to the naked eye, and even when using a microscope, great care must be taken to observe them. An international team of researchers led by the Center for Geomicrobiology, Aarhus University, has nevertheless succeeded in retrieving four archaeal cells from seabed mud and mapping the genome of each one.

“Until now, nobody knew how these widespread mud-dwelling archaea actually live. Mapping the genome from the four archaeal cells shows they all have genes that enable them to live on protein degradation,” says Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Dorthe Groth Petersen, who is a part of the research group publishing the ground-breaking results today in the renowned journal Nature.

Scientists previously thought that proteins were only broken down in the sea by bacteria, but archaea have now turned out to be important new key organisms in protein degradation in the seabed. Proteins actually make up a large part of the organic matter in the seabed and – since the seabed has the world’s largest deposit of organic carbon – archaea thus appear to play an important and previously unknown role in the global carbon cycle.

Like a grain of sand on the beach

Archaea are some of the most abundant organisms in the world, but very few people have ever heard of them. They were originally discovered in extreme environments such as hot springs and other special environments like cow stomachs and rice paddies, where they form methane. In recent years, however, researchers have realised that archaea make up a large part of the microorganisms in the seabed, and that the seabed is also the habitat of the majority of the world’s microorganisms.

“A realistic estimate is that archaea are the group of organisms with the most individuals in the world. In fact, there are more archaea than there are grains of sand on the beaches of the whole world. If you bury your toes right down in the mud in the seabed, you’ll be in touch with billions of archaea,” says Professor Bo Barker Jørgensen, Director of the Center for Geomicrobiology.

New technology links function and identity

This is the first time that scientists have succeeded in classifying archaeal cells in a mud sample from the seabed and subsequently analysing the genome of the cells, thereby revealing what the organisms are and what they live on.
“At present, we can’t culture these archaea or store them in the laboratory, so this rules out the physiological tests usually carried out by the microbiologists. We’ve therefore worked with cell extraction, cell sorting, and subsequent mapping of the individual cell’s combined genetic information – that’s to say its genome. This is a new approach that can reveal both a cell’s identity and its lifestyle,” says Professor of Microbiology Andreas Schramm, affiliated with the Center for Geomicrobiology.

Dr. Michael Richter from Ribocon has developed the Software to analyse the genomic data and was involved in this project, too. ”Raw genomic data alone are not enough. These data have to be translated like a book in a foreign language into words, sentences, punctuation marks, chapters and sections in order to identify the genes and their regulators. This can be accomplished with our software. Researcher can reconstruct complete cellular pathways and transportion processes in the computer.”

The method opens up a new world of knowledge for microbiologists, who can now study an individual microorganism just as zoologists study an individual mouse. Microbiologists have been hoping for this for a long time. Until now, they have only been familiar with the life processes of less than 1% of the world’s microorganisms – those they can culture in a laboratory. The new method provides opportunities for studying the remaining 99% directly from nature, without being dependent on culturing the microorganisms in the laboratory. In future, this method will no doubt reveal new, unknown functions of microorganisms from many different environments.
For more information please contact
Professor Andreas Schramm, Microbiology and Center for Geomicrobiology, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, +45 8715 6541/6020 2659, andreas.schramm@biology.au.dkmailto:bo.barker@biology.au.dk

Dr. Michael Richter, Ribocon, Fahrenheitstraße 1, 28359 Bremen.
+49 421 2487053 mrichter@ribocon.com

or the press officers at the Max Planck Institiute for Marine Microbiology
Dr. Manfred Schlösser mschloes@mpi-bremen.de +49 (0) 421 2028 704
Dr. Rita Dunker rdunker@mpi-bremen.de +49 (0) 421 2028 856

Original publication
Predominant archaea in marine sediments degrade detrital proteins
Karen G. Lloyd, Lars Schreiber, Dorthe G. Petersen, Kasper Kjeldsen, Mark A.
Lever, Andrew D. Steen, Ramunas Stepanauskas, Michael Richter, Sara Kleindienst,
Sabine Lenk, Andreas Schramm, Bo B. Jørgensen
Nature 2013, 10.1038/nature12033

Institutes

Center for Geomicrobiology, Aarhus University, Denmark (geomicrobiology.au.dk)
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA (www.utk.edu)
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, East Boothbay, Maine, USA (www.bigelow.org/)
Max Plank Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany www.mpi-bremen.de
Ribocon GmbH, Bremen (www.ribocon.com)

Dr. Manfred Schloesser | Max-Planck-Institut
Further information:
http://www.mpi-bremen.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen
23.02.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Atomic Design by Water
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Keen Sense for Molecules

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

“Laser Technology Live” at the AKL’18 International Laser Technology Congress in Aachen

23.02.2018 | Trade Fair News

Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen

23.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>