Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017

Microbes in the atmosphere and the role of the oceans in their movement have been largely overlooked by researchers. Now, an international team shows that the oceans contribute to a large fraction of the microbes found in the global atmosphere.

Understanding the oceans' role as a source and sink for airborne microbes can provide insight into the maintenance of microbial diversity and how human, animal and plant pathogens spread over oceans and between landmasses.


At sea on the Malaspana 2010 Circumnavigation Expedition.

Credit: © 2016 Joan Costa

The team, which included researchers from KAUST as well as several Spanish and French organizations, expected that they would find many more microbes over land than over water. What they didn't know was how many microbes actually exist in the atmosphere over the oceans.

More than 100 air samples were collected from tropical and subtropical regions over the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans during an eight-month marine research expedition -- the Malaspina 2010 Circumnavigation Expedition -- that began in December 2010.

"We found that the atmosphere is a vector for the long-range transport -- typically 4,000Km -- of airborne microbes, including bacteria and fungi among others, says Carlos Duarte of KAUST's Red Sea Research Center, who led the study. "Even in the open ocean, more than half of the microbial load in the atmosphere is derived from land." Atmospheric transport may be important in redistributing pathogens across the globe, he adds.

The team found an average of 67,000 prokaryotes (non-nucleus-containing single-celled organisms like bacteria) per cubic meter of sampled air over the oceans compared to 190,000 bacteria per cubic meter of air over land. They also found an average of 32,000 eukaryotes (nucleus-containing microbes like fungi) per cubic meter of sampled air over the oceans compared to 240,000 fungal spores found per cubic meter of atmosphere over land.

The maximum values of eukaryotes were found over the North Atlantic and East Pacific, most likely affected by African and Asian dust-related events in these regions.

The team conducted genetic analyses and found 25% of the microbes in the atmosphere above the oceans were of marine origin, while 42% were land-based organisms and the remaining 24% were undetermined. More than 50% of the microbes in samples taken from the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans, which were far from landmasses and influenced by marine air masses, were of terrestrial or undetermined origin.

"The results open up a new suite of research questions, including atmospheric pathways for the dispersal of pathogens, the role of small islands as stepping stones for the cross-basin transport of land microbes across vast distances, and the role these organisms play in condensing particles, including rain drops, in the atmosphere," says Duarte.

He and his team have followed up with research on microbial loads over the Mediterranean Sea and the Arctic Ocean. They are also studying dust-associated organisms over the Red Sea.

Carolyn Unck | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled
24.04.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

nachricht Scientists generate an atlas of the human genome using stem cells
24.04.2018 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
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

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled

24.04.2018 | Life Sciences

Scientists create innovative new 'green' concrete using graphene

24.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

24.04.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>