Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Minorities accomplish most - watching micoorganisms at work

04.11.2008
Modern NanoSIMS-Technology allows insights into the metabolism of single cells - and provides some surprising findings.

In an alpine lake, the lion's share of the lakes metabolic activity in the investigated layer was accomplished by a tiny part of the bacterial community. Such minorities have often been neglected in ecosystem studies. However, they appear to be of crucial importance in some ecosystems, the authors point out.

Microorganisms are all over the place - but who does what, and when?

An international group of scientists around Niculina Musat from Max-Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, Germany, managed to determine simultaneously the metabolism and identity of single bacterial cells. At Lake Cadagno, an alpine lake in Switzerland, the scientists compared the metabolic activity of three species of bacteria. They now publish their surprising results in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Science" (PNAS): The lion's share of the lakes metabolic activity in the investigated layer was accomplished by a tiny part of the bacterial community. The species constituting only 0.3 percent of all bacterial cells was responsible for more than 40 percent of the ammonium- and 70 percent of the carbon uptake.

Opposite to most inland waters, Lake Cadagno is permanently stratified (meromictic). The transition zone between an upper, oxic and a lower, anoxic layer is the habitat of Chromatium okenii, Lamprocystis purpurea and Chlorobium clathratiforme - all of these microorganisms are living photosynthetically in the absence of oxygen. Chlorobium clathratiforme, being the most abundant species, accounts for up to 80 percent of all cells in the investigated layer. Nevertheless, C. clathratiforme contributes only about 15 percent of the total ammonium and carbon uptake. Lamprocystis purpurea, an abundant, small species, took up less than 2 percent of the investigated nutrients. On the contrary, the comparatively large cells of Chromatium okenii, comprising a tiny part of the bacterial community, contributed the major part to the uptake of ammonium and carbon.

"Most studies on the ecology of microbial communities deal with the abundant organisms. This is also true for genetical analyses of environmental samples. Groups of microorganisms with a frequency of less than one percent, however, are often neglected and regarded as minor or of no importance. However, our results clearly show that exactly those minorities can be essential for the understanding of an ecosystem. Neglecting them can easily lead to erroneous conclusions", underlines co-author Marcel Kuypers.

Comparing cells within one species, Musat and her colleagues found even more surprises: Metabolic rates vary greatly between individual cells of the same species, showing that microbial populations in the environment are heterogeneous, being comprised of physiologically distinct individuals. The scientists suspect genetic reasons for this heterogeneity. Differences between individual cells probably result from minor variability within the genome, springing from mutations during evolution.

The results at hand are available thanks to the so-called NanoSIMS-Technology. The scientists from the Max-Planck-Institute in Bremen operate their NanoSIMS since mid 2008 and have optimized this special mass spectrometer for ecological issues. This allows to analyze the distribution of various labelled carbon and nitrogen compounds within single cells. At the same time, single microbial cells are identified by the scientists applying molecular techniques. "This method will revolutionize ecological investigations", Marcel Kuypers is confident.

Manfred Schlösser
Fanni Aspetsberger
For further information please contact:
Dr. Marcel Kuypers 0421 2028 647
Dr. Niculina Musat 0421 2028 653
or the MPI press officers
Dr. Manfred Schlösser 0421 2028704
Dr. Fanni Aspetsberger 0421 2028 704
Original article:
A single cell view on the ecophysiology of anaerobic phototrophic bacteria
Niculina Musat, Hannah Halm, Bärbel Winterholler, Peter Hoppe, Sandro Peduzzi, Francois Hillion, Francois Horreard, Rudolf Amann, Bo B. Jørgensen, and Marcel M.M. Kuypers.

doi:_10.1073/pnas.0809329105

Participating institutions
Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Celsiusstrasse 1, 28359 Bremen, Germany
Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Joh.-J.-Becher Weg 27, 55128 Mainz, Germany
Cantonal Institute of Microbiology and Alpine Biology Center Foundation Piora, Via Mirasole 22A, CH-6500 Bellinzona, Switzerland

Cameca, Quai des Gresillons 29, 92622 Gennevilliers Cedex, France

Dr. Manfred Schloesser | idw
Further information:
http://www.mpi-bremen.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University

nachricht Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside

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 Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers shoot for success with simulations of laser pulse-material interactions

29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling

29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation

29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>