Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bone-Munching Worms from the Deep Sea Thrive on Fish Bones

18.04.2011
A new study led by a scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego is painting a more complete picture of an extraordinary sea worm that makes its living in the depths of the ocean on the bones of dead animals.

Discovered fewer than 10 years ago off Monterey, Calif., but since identified in other oceans, the flower-like marine “boneworms,” or Osedax, have been documented mainly living upon whale carcasses that fall to the ocean floor, leading some scientists to argue that Osedax specializes in whale bones. But Scripps Professor Greg Rouse, along with colleagues at Occidental College and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) wondered: Do Osedax boneworms also live on the bones of non-mammals?

To assess the question, the researchers carried out an experiment, which is described in the April 13 online edition of Biology Letters, a Royal Society journal. The team employed MBARI’s remotely operated vehicles Ventana and Doc Ricketts to deploy tuna and wahoo bones, as well as shark cartilage inside wire cages at approximately 1,000-meter (3,280-foot) depth off Monterey, Calif. When the researchers retrieved the cages five months later, they found Osedax living on the fish bones, although the shark cartilage had already been eaten by unknown organisms.

“We weren’t sure that Osedax boneworms would be able to settle on fish bone and to grow to maturity and breed. When it actually turned out that we could establish all these things it was very satisfying,” said Rouse. “That we actually found three different Osedax species living on the fish bones was a further bonus. The finding shows that Osedax boneworms are not whale bone specialists, but are arguably generalists and able to exploit a variety of vertebrate bones.”

The finding also lends support to a hypothesis they have previously proposed that Osedax and its bone-eating lifestyle may have evolved millions of years ago during a time known as the Cretaceous period, well before the dawn of marine mammals.

“These bone-eating worms may have expanded their feeding niche several times to exploit the bones of large marine vertebrates as they successively colonized the world’s oceans from land,” say the authors in the paper.

The scientists say Osedax’s ability to exploit non-mammalian bones could be an ancestral trait: “We suggest that whalebones are but one in a long series of food sources that Osedax has exploited and continues to exploit.”

“Our experimental studies at MBARI have identified 17 species of Osedax from various depths in Monterey submarine canyon,” said MBARI’s Bob Vrijenhoek, a paper coauthor. “We now know that the worms are capable of subsisting on a variety of bones from cows, pigs and seals, but this new discovery of Osedax on fish bones forces us to take a fresh look at their nutritional limits and evolution.”

The team now plans to further study the possible use of shark remains by Osedax and describe and further understand a host of new species of boneworms they have discovered off Monterey. They also plan to study how the worms actually eat into bone.

In addition to Rouse and Vrijenhoek, coauthors of the study include Shana Goffredi of Occidental College and Shannon Johnson of MBARI.

Funding for the study was provided by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation (through MBARI) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Mario Aguilera | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.ucsd.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden

nachricht The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

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 >>>