Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

U. of Colorado scientists discover four new kingdoms of life

20.05.2003


University of Colorado at Boulder researchers have discovered four new kingdoms of life in the high alpine environment of Colorado, findings that have potential applications in the fields of agriculture and global change.



Doctoral student Allen Meyer and Professor Steven Schmidt of the environmental, population and organismic biology department discovered the new microbe kingdoms in barren, boulder-filled tundra slopes west of Boulder.

At altitudes of 11,000 feet to 13,000 feet in elevation just east of the Continental Divide, the region is subject to nine months of snow and three months of intense sun and wind, said Meyer.


Although scientists in the 18th century originally classified the kingdoms of life into two groups -- plants and animals -- many scientists now believe there are many more, including fungi and a number of types of single-celled organisms. Because of new scientific tools resulting in sophisticated DNA analysis, the number of kingdoms was estimated to be about 30 before the CU-Boulder findings, said Meyer.

Funded by the National Science Foundation’s program, "Microbial Observatories," the findings will be presented at the 103rd General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Washington, D.C. by Allen on May 19.

Meyer and Schmidt used a novel molecular technique that extracts DNA from the soil to identify the organisms living there. "The discovery of new kingdoms means more undiscovered species exist," said Meyer. The researchers concentrated their research on eukaryotic microbes -- microscopic organisms that have a membrane around their DNA. The number of microbe species has been growing as scientists use new DNA techniques to uncover the family of eukaryotes, they said.

Unearthing new organisms might even help in solving practical problems in agriculture and ecology, Meyer said. "Newly discovered microbial eukaryotes could be of benefit in understanding soil diversity that may be important in predicting impacts of global change, for example."

In addition, newly discovered eukaryotes could potentially be of benefit in newer sewage treatment plants to help other microbes convert nitrates from agricultural pollution into harmless nitrogen and oxygen, he said. The CU-Boulder researchers might even be able to find new microbes to fight off disease in plants.

"These family trees, or phylogenies, help scientists group organisms into kingdoms," said Meyer. The most important of these approaches involves the small, sub-unit ribosomal gene, key for making proteins."

Instead of culturing organisms, Meyer and Schmidt extracted DNA directly from the soil, obtaining DNA from all the soil organisms at once. Comparing their gene sequencing results with those of known eukaryote organisms allowed them to discover the sequences from the four new kingdoms.

Although they have the sequences of four previously unknown kingdoms, they have not yet identified the specific organisms themselves, said Schmidt. "But now that we know these microbes are in the alpine soil, we can go back and isolate them in these extreme environments and study them.

"We will be using PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, to amplify and identify organisms to get a snapshot of the diversity of soil-organism diversity in the high alpine," said Schmidt.

"Another important issue is that our alpine regions are changing rapidly, said Schmidt.

"Depending on the pattern of decreasing snow cover over the past several years, we are racing to identify the species before bigger changes occur and some of the species disappear before they can be identified."


###
Contact: Allen Meyer, 303-492-8239
Allen.Meyer@colorado.edu
Steve Schmidt, 303-492-6248
Steve.Schmidt@colorado.edu
Jim Scott 303-492-3114

Alen Meyer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.colorado.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

nachricht CWRU researchers find a chemical solution to shrink digital data storage
22.06.2017 | Case Western Reserve University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

Im Focus: Optoelectronic Inline Measurement – Accurate to the Nanometer

Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.

New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation

22.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

A rhodium-based catalyst for making organosilicon using less precious metal

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>