Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Stay-At-Home Microbes: Micro-Organisms More Complicated Than We Thought

25.07.2003


The archaeon Sulfolobus can be found near geysers like this one in Yellowstone


Dennis Grogan isolates cultures in the lab


A study of microbes that thrive in hot, acidic conditions has overturned a long-held view that species of micro-organisms do not differ by geographic location like other forms of life. The research by the University of Cincinnati and the University of California-Berkeley has just been published online by the journal Science.

When it comes to plant life and animal life, a species usually shows genetic differences in different parts of the world. For the tiny form of life known as micro-organisms, the opposite has been considered to be true – they don’t tend to differ by geographic location. That long-held view has been convincingly overturned in a study by University of Cincinnati and University of California, Berkeley, researchers focusing on a form of life that flourishes in extremely hot conditions.

Co-authors Dennis Grogan of the University of Cincinnati and Rachael J. Whitaker and John W. Taylor of Berkeley provide the most comprehensive proof to date that at least one species of micro-organism in different parts of the world does have genetic differences, if you look close enough. Whitaker, the principal author, focused on the archaeon Sulfolobus, found in acidic hot springs and flourishing at temperatures from 140-180 degrees Fahrenheit. She drew the vast majority of samples for her analysis from archives developed and stored at the University of Cincinnati Department of Biological Sciences under the leadership of Grogan. Whitaker analyzed the DNA of some 78 cultures from the United States, Eastern Russia and Iceland.



Of those samples, more than 54 came from the University of Cincinnati collection that Grogan has built with the help of National Science Foundation funding as well as the help of undergraduate and graduate students. Micro-organisms From Extreme Environments, a summer course taught by Grogan, involves UC students in laboratory work that “isolates” the archaea samples from hot springs samples and preserves the live cultures in vials stored in freezers. Culturing archaea can be difficult because of the extreme conditions they enjoy.

It was not until the 1970s that Archaea were discovered and classified as one of three domains of life. The other two are bacteria and eukaryota (plants, animals, fungi and protists).

Many archaea survive in “extreme” environments that are “normal” for them, but for other life forms would be lethal or at least injurious. Sulfolobus, for example, flourishes in acidic hot springs – including those found bubbling at Yellowstone. Also known as “extremophiles,” these microscopic critters not only thrive in temperatures ranging from 65 to 85 degrees Celsius, but also love acidic conditions with a pH ranging from 2 to 4. The human body, on the other hand, is typically at 98.5 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) and has a pH of 7.

Because archaea were not even discovered until about 25 years ago, says Grogan, they remain a relatively unknown domain of life. Recently, researchers have hinted that perhaps species of micro-organisms can differ by geographic location, but this study provides the most comprehensive evidence to date of that idea, he adds. The implications for understanding microbial life are far reaching.

“It is important to realize that disease-causing bacteria represent only a tiny fraction of a bewildering diversity of micro-organisms that we can grow in the laboratory. These cultured species, in turn, represent a tiny fraction of the species present in nature that are shaping our environment in ways we don’t fully understand. Now microbiologists have yet another level of complexity to consider, namely that differences within a microbial species can arise in different locations,” Grogan says. “This process may be increasing the diversity of microbial life in many environments.”

Because the hot springs where archaea live can be so dangerous, visitors to places such as Yellowstone are warned to stay on designated walkways. Researchers, including Grogan, must collect samples in areas where tourists won’t see them, using special tools for safety. Grogan typically goes into the field to collect samples in June.

The sampling and cultivation work in this study was assisted by the following University of Cincinnati scholars: Professor of Biological Sciences Brian Kinkle, graduate student Greg D. Bell and undergraduate student Josh E. Hansen.

Marianne Kunnen-Jones | University of Cincinnati
Further information:
http://www.uc.edu/info-services/archaea.htm
http://www.biology.uc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University

nachricht How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-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: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>