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 Individual Receptors Caught at Work
19.10.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Rapid environmental change makes species more vulnerable to extinction
19.10.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrode materials from the microwave oven

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

New material for digital memories of the future

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>