The two previously unknown species from the Baltic Sea appear to have adapted extremely well to the changing oxygen conditions of their native environment and have a cell structure that heretofore has not been observed in collared flagellates.
The funnel-shaped collar accounts for the scientific name of these protozoa, choanoflagellates (choano [Greek]: depression, funnel). They are among the protists and bacterial feeders that play a major role in the microbial food web. The collar consists of a series of filamentous cellular appendages, the microvilli. Protruding from the collar is a single flagellum, which these one-celled organisms use both to propel themselves and to swirl their bacterial food, which is then captured by the funnel and, via the microvilli, transported into the cell.
Cultivation — that is, the establishment of pure cultures under laboratory conditions — is extremely difficult and only rarely successful for these types of microorganisms. Consequently, only a small proportion of the existing marine microbial biodiversity is known. Previous research carried out by members of the IOW indicated that choanoflagellates in the oxygen-depleted areas of the central Baltic Sea are present in elevated concentrations. However, until now it has not been possible to obtain pure laboratory cultures of choanoflagellates isolated from marine low-oxygen environments (redox zones).
Exactly this feat was recently accomplished by IOW researchers with the support of Russian visiting scientists. The addition of Codosiga minima and Codosiga balthica, two previously completely unknown species of collared flagellates, further enriches the extensive culture collection of the IOW, which already includes representatives of a number of bacterial, flagellate, and ciliate species central to the Baltic Sea ecosystem. These two new members have been examined by electron microscopy and characterized in detail. Codosiga minima was so named because of its small size (about 3 microns) and it is probably one of the rarer species in the Baltic Sea. Its "big brother" (about 5 microns), however, is a common species that seems to preferentially reside in the Baltic Sea, hence the name Codosiga balthica.
Both species make use of the food sources of the low-oxygen redox zone and feed on its abundant supplies of bacteria and archaea. At the same time they enjoy a degree of protection from predators, since multicellular zooplankton (e.g., small crustaceans) rarely ventures into the low-oxygen layers. In order to take advantage of the living conditions of the redox zone, the two choanoflagellates — which evolved from oxygen-loving ancestors — have adapted in many ways to the lack of oxygen. Thus, the normally oxygen-dependent mitochondria — the energy-producing "power plants" of cells — have undergone an important change in that they can function with little or even no oxygen. This form of adaptation is absolutely unique among the collared flagellates as it has never been observed before in this group of organisms. Another surprise for the IOW researchers was that Codosiga balthica harbors intracellular bacteria. Thus, numerous bacterial cells live within each flagellated cell, where they presumably serve to support energy metabolism.
These two closely related species are now available for the first time as model organisms, which will allow experimental investigations of choanoflagellate metabolism under low-oxygen conditions. The results of such studies will no doubt help to clarify many of the as yet unanswered ecological, physiological, and evolutionary questions regarding collared flagellates.
The described work was supported by the German Research Foundation conducted. Further information on these results can be found in:
Wylezich,C., Karpov,S.A., Mylnikov,A.P., Anderson,R. and Jürgens,K. (2012) Ecologically relevant choanoflagellates collected from hypoxic water masses of the Baltic Sea have untypical mitochondrial cristae. BMC Microbiol. 12 (1), 271
Contact:Dr. Claudia Wylezich, Biological Oceanography, IOW
Dr. Barbara Hentzsch | idw
Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
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
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...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
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...
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...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy