Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Marine algae: Short Circuit in the Food Web

09.07.2014

Chemists of Jena University shed light upon mechanisms of viral diseases of marine algae

Together with scientists of the Weizman Institute in Israel the team around Prof. Pohnert has analyzed the complex interaction between the algae Emiliania huxleyi and viruses. In the science magazine ‘The Plant Cell’ the researchers describe how they could clarify the molecular mechanisms of the relationship between the virus and the algae, which crucially influences the food chain of the oceans

They are amongst the most numerous inhabitants of the sea: tiny haptophytes of the type Emiliania huxleyi. Not visible to the naked eye, when they are in bloom in spring, they form square kilometer sized patches, they are even visible on satellite images.

“Together with other phytoplankton, Emiliania huxleyi is responsible for approximately half of the global photosynthesis output,” states Prof. Dr. Georg Pohnert of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany). In the process the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide – CO2 – is extracted from the atmosphere and oxygen is set free. “Additionally the microalgae use CO2 to produce tiny calcified discs which re-enforce their outer skin,” the chair for Instrumental Analysis and Bio-organic Analysis continues. Thus the unicellular algae are a decisive factor for a stable world climate.

However the annual bloom of Emiliania huxleyi regularly comes to a rapid ending: the algae are massively affected by viruses and thus die off. Until now it remained unclear exactly how the viruses killed the algae. But together with scientists of the Weizman Institute in Israel the team around Prof. Pohnert has now analyzed the complex interaction between the algae and the viruses. In the science magazine ‘The Plant Cell’ the researchers describe how they could clarify the molecular mechanisms of the relationship between the virus and the algae, which crucially influences the food chain of the oceans. (DOI: 10.1105/tpc.114.125641).

To find this out, the researchers infected algae in controlled conditions in a laboratory and afterwards analyzed the whole metabolism of the microalgae. “The viruses intervene massively with the metabolism of the algae,” Pohnert sums up the results. So for instance they use chemical components of the algae to multiply themselves, because for viruses replication is only possible with the active help of a host organism.

“The viruses prompt the algae to produce exactly the molecular components which they, the viruses, need for themselves,” Pohnert says. As early as one hour after the beginning of the infection the viruses completely turned the metabolism of the algae upside down. The algae then increase the production of certain sphingolipids, which the viruses need to multiply. After a few hours the infected algae burst and each one sets free about 500 new viruses.

But the micro algae don’t succumb to their fate without a fight, as the scientists were able to show in their new study. “They fight back by drastically reducing the biosynthesis of so-called terpenes,” Pohnert explains. The viruses also rely on these hydrocarbons. If their production is switched off by so-called inhibitors in model experiments, the production of viruses decreases distinctly.

The Jena researchers and their Israeli colleagues are now planning to double-check their results from the laboratory in real life – in the sea. Emiliania huxleyi and its viruses thereby serve as a model system to better our understanding of the marine food chain. Until recently, the food web of the oceans was mostly considered a linear organization, according to Prof. Pohnert: Algae, which store solar energy and combine with CO2, are the basic food resource for small animals and fish, which in turn are being eaten by bigger fish. The viruses however create a kind of ‘short circuit’ in this chain.

“Thus the viruses divert a substantial part of the whole fixed carbon from the food chain as we know it so far, and supply deep sea bacteria with it,” Pohnert says. Which consequences this will have for other organisms in the sea and the whole ecological system will be shown by future studies.

Original Publication:
Rosenwasser S et al. Rewiring host lipid metabolism by large viruses determines the fate of Emiliania huxleyi, a bloom-forming alga in the ocean, The Plant cell 2014, DOI: 10.1105/tpc.114.125641

Contact:
Prof. Dr. Georg Pohnert
Institute for Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry Bioorganic Analytics
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Lessingstraße 8, 07743 Jena
Germany
Phone:++49 3641 948170
Email: Georg.Pohnert[at]uni-jena.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.uni-jena.de

Dr. Ute Schönfelder | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Analysis CO2 Cell Emiliania Emiliania huxleyi Marine Photosynthesis marine algae metabolism oceans viruses

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Embryonic development: How do limbs develop from cells?
18.05.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

nachricht Reading histone modifications, an oncoprotein is modified in return
18.05.2018 | American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>