Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Back garden biodiversity

04.07.2002


The average back garden may contain twice as many species as have so far been identified on the whole planet, according to a study published today by British scientists.



But gardeners would need a microscope to observe the massive biodiversity, which exists almost entirely among micro-organisms in the soil.

Using new methods of analysis, Dr Tom Curtis, of the Department of Civil Engineering, Newcastle University, England, and colleagues, estimated that a tonne of soil could contain some four million separate species of bacteria.


This is surprisingly high, since only 1.75 million plant and animal species have so far been identified globally, although these tend to be the larger, observable species.

The new findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of the USA, may cause scientists to revise the lower estimates for global biodiversity, which had previously been put at anywhere between three million and 100 million species. It is generally accepted that it is impossible to identify all species, because micro-organisms are so many and so small.

Dr Curtis argues that studying the unseen biodiversity of bacteria is important because we cannot fully understand the way ecosystems work without this knowledge. For example, the way we manage soil affects the bacterial content, which in turn may affect productivity. This is not only important for farmers but for ecologists, such as those who manage rainforests.

Other applications of this knowledge may lead to better sewage treatment and pollution control, since bacteria are employed to break down human waste products and to destroy toxins as polluted water flows through wetlands.

Dr Curtis and colleagues based their findings on two key measurements of soil samples: the total number of bacteria present and the abundance of the commonest species. They devised a statistical technique, based on a branch of mathematics known as log-normal species abundance curves, to estimate the total number of species.

The method was then applied to other ecosystems, calculating that typical samples of ocean might contain 160 species per millilitre, and sewage systems contain surprisingly fewer, only 70 species per millilitre.
According to the calculations, the entire ocean may contain about two million species, while a tonne of soil could contain double that number.


1. "Estimating prokaryotic diversity and its limits" by Thomas P. Curtis, Jack W. Scannell, and William T. Sloan will be published by PNAS on their website www.pnas.org and can also be obtained from Newcastle University press office

Professor Tom Curtis | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nrel.colostate.edu/IBOY/biomonth/resource.html
http://www.nrel.colostate.edu/IBOY/whatandwhere.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>