Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Methane bacteria possess pressure valve

24.10.2002


Microbiologists from the University of Nijmegen have discovered that a methane-forming archaeabacterium sometimes deliberately allows hydrogen ions to leak out of its cell. At high hydrogen concentrations in particular, the cell membrane works as a sort of pressure valve. The waste of energy seems to be of vital importance for the microorganism.



The researchers examined how a bacterium adapts to changing circumstances. The study focussed on the behaviour of the relatively simple methane producing microorganism Methanothermobacter thermoautotrophicus. In order to grow, this so-called archaeabacterium obtains hydrogen from the environment. However, the quantity of hydrogen, that is the food available, can vary considerably. The methane bacterium seems to use this to its advantage.

At high hydrogen concentrations, thus an excess of food, the bacterium grows as quickly as possible. In so doing the organism loses energy but at this point in time plenty of energy is available anyway. Furthermore, this wastage is a bonus as it results in the difference between the hydrogen ion concentrations inside and outside of the cell becoming smaller. Under these circumstances this is desirable, as otherwise a range of processes in the cell might cease to continue.


The observations confirm the prediction made in a mathematical model. That model, constructed by the Nijmegen research group, not only predicted that the methane bacteria would waste energy, but also how that would occur. At high hydrogen concentrations the microorganism would allow hydrogen ions to leak through the cell membrane. In this case the cell membrane would act as a sort of excess pressure valve.

The model summarises about 2000 different reactions in a small number of biochemical and thermodynamic equations. The researchers have now subjected the model and the assumptions on which it is based to extensive experimental testing. As had been assumed, the important reactions in the methane-forming process proceeded without energy loss.

Despite its relative simplicity, the model seems to accurately predict the behaviour of the microorganism. This implies that apparently complicated processes can in fact be determined by simple thermodynamic principles.

The researchers expect that this is not only the case for methane-forming bacteria but might also apply to other forms of life. This means that the research is not only interesting for microbiologists, but also for chemists, physicians, botanists and zoologists.



Michel Philippens | alfa

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

nachricht Microbial resident enables beetles to feed on a leafy diet
17.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

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 “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>