Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fresh air in the sand: What drives bacteria in the North Sea

02.05.2017

Two new studies present exciting details on seafloor bacterial life in the North Sea.

Each year, close to five million Germans spent their holidays at the North Sea, relaxing on the beach or enjoying the beautiful nature of the Wadden Sea. However, the North Sea is more than just one of Germany’s top tourist destinations. It is also a fascinating ecosystem, significant for our everyday life and always good for a surprise.


LanceALot en route to a deployment. The device allows the simultaneous measurement of current velocity, seafloor oxygen concentration and bedform.

Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology


Map of the stations where Soeren Ahmerkamp and David Probandt conducted their measurements.

D. Probandt/Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology

That is why Soeren Ahmerkamp and David Probandt from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen spend a lot of time at the North Sea. The two researchers focus on sands – or, scientifically spoken, permeable coastal sediments. In two new publications the researchers describe how oxygen travels through the sand and what that means for the resident bacterial community.

„Sands cover large parts of the seafloor along the continental margins”, Soeren Ahmerkamp from the Department of Biogeochemistry at the MPI Bremen explains. „These sediments are much more permeable - meaning oxygen can penetrate much easier than the mostly muddy sediments of the deep ocean.“

When seawater is flushed through the sand it also transports oxygen into the seafloor, thereby stimulating the resident microorganisms. The more oxygen arrives, the more active the microorganisms are. That allows them to turn over large amounts of carbon and nitrogen, for example. „This is particularly important considering that rivers transport large amounts of nitrogen and other nutrients to the North Sea“, says David Probandt from MPI Bremen’s Department of Molecular Ecology.

„Until now, the interaction of sands and seawater was mainly investigated under laboratory conditions”, Ahmerkamp points out. “It is essential to investigate these processes under natural conditions to validate the laboratory findings and estimate their importance.”

Together with colleagues from the MPI Bremen, Ahmerkamp therefore developed a robot named LanceALot, which simultaneously scans the sea floor, measures the current velocity and determines the oxygen concentrations in the sand. LanceALot was deployed at 16 different locations in the North Sea to investigate the interplay of the controlling factors.

Ripples – the typical sand waves reminding of corrugated iron - play an important role. „The continuous movement of the ripples and changing tidal flows make sand a highly dynamic, i.e. a constantly constantly changing environment. Sometimes oxygen is present, sometimes it is not. Sometimes it penetrates several centimetres into the sand and a few minutes later it only reaches down to a few millimetres – the microorganisms need to adapt to this changing conditions”, Ahmerkamp says.

Thus, the sedimentary bacteria have to be flexible. „Each individual sand grain is a home to tens to hundreds of thousands of bacteria. Of course, they can set quite a few things in motion”, David Probandt points out. For example, as the bacteria remineralize carbon and nitrogen from the seawater, they transform these sands into giant filters. A lot of the substances carried into the sand with the seawater do not come out again. Thus, these substances are removed from the water.

To date, little is known about the bacterial inhabitants of the coast. Probandt and his colleagues took a close look at them with state-of-the-art molecular techniques and fluorescence microscopy. „Already in the uppermost five millimetres of the sediment, we find very different and much more diverse bacteria than in the seawater”, says Probandt.

„Who lives where is mainly determined by the composition of the seafloor. The more permeable it is for intruding seawater, the more aerobic bacteria we find.” The study also revealed that one group of bacteria, so-called Planctomycetes, are particularly abundant in coastal sediments. As opposed to other bacteria, Planctomycetes have a very complex life cycle and produce a variety of natural products. They could therefore also be specifically adapted to conditions in highly dynamic surface sediments. „Next, we want to find out if this is indeed the case“ Probandt emphasizes.

The sea floor along the coasts is heavily affected by human activities – from economic usage to nutrient input and climate change. The new studies point out the complexity of this habitat and the importance of its inhabitants. „The close cooperation of scientists from different disciplines allowed us to gain many new insights about this dynamic ecosystem “, stresses Probandt.

„There is still a lot to investigate in the North Sea and other coastal seas“, Ahmerkamp concludes. „The processes in these ecosystems and possible changes affect all of us.”

Original publications

S. Ahmerkamp, C. Winter, K. Krämer, D. de Beer, F. Janssen, J. Friedrichs, M. Kuypers und M. Holtappels (2017): Regulation of benthic oxygen fluxes in permeable sediments of the coastal ocean. Limnology and Oceanography.
DOI: 10.1002/lno.10544 (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/lno.10544/full)
This paper was produced in the framework of the MPI-marum cross-cutting-project 5 (CCP5) "Organic-matter remineralization and nutrient turnover in permeable sandy sediments”.

D. Probandt,. K. Knittel, H. E. Tegetmeyer, S. Ahmerkamp, M. Holtappels und R. Amann (2017): Permeability shapes bacterial communities in sublittoral surface sediments. Environmental Microbiology 19(4): 1584-1599.
DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.13676 (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1462-2920.13676/epdf)



Please direct your queries to

Dr. Soeren Ahmerkamp (https://www.mpi-bremen.de/Dr.-soeren-ahmerkamp.html)
David Probandt (https://www.mpi-bremen.de/David-Probandt.html)

or the press office

Dr. Fanni Aspetsberger
Dr. Manfred Schlösser
Phone: +49 421 2028 704
E-Mail: presse(at)mpi-bremen.de

Dr. Fanni Aspetsberger | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

nachricht Microbial resident enables beetles to feed on a leafy diet
17.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>