Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Microbe’s genome reveals insights into ocean ecology

16.12.2004


Unexpected findings about the genetic makeup of a marine microbe have given scientists a new perspective on how bacteria make a living in the ocean – a view that may prove useful in wider studies of marine ecology.

By deciphering and analyzing the DNA sequence of Silicibacter pomeroyi, a member of an important group of marine bacteria, scientists found that the metabolic strategies of marine bacterioplankton are more diverse and less conventional than previously thought.

In one surprise, the study found that S. pomeroyi has the genetic tools to enable it to use inorganic compounds (such as inorganic sulfur) for energy, which allows the microbes to use organic carbon more efficiently in low-nutrient ocean environments.



Analysis of the genome sequence also showed that the microbe has adapted in ways that allow it to take advantage of so-called ocean "hot spots" – microscopic areas of the ocean that are rich in organic matter, typically related to living and dead microbial cells. The study, which appears in the December 16 issue of Nature, was led by scientists at the University of Georgia’s Department of Marine Sciences and at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), along with several collaborators. The project was sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

S. pomeroyi – named for Lawrence Pomeroy, a UGA biologist who was a pioneer in the study of marine microbial ecology – is a member of an important group of marine microbes, the Roseobacter clade, found in both coastal and open oceans. Those bacteria account for an estimated 15 percent of the production of new microbial cells in the ocean.

The Nature paper’s first author, Mary Ann Moran, says the DNA sequence sheds new light on ecological strategies that sustain microbial life in the world’s oceans.

"This genome is especially significant for the new theories it will generate about the workings of the ocean," says Moran. "It provides new ideas and tools for investigating how microbes control carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen cycling on a global scale." The project was led by UGA’s Moran and by TIGR scientist Naomi Ward, who is the paper’s senior author. Other collaborators included: Ron Kiene of the University of South Alabama; Gary King of the University of Maine; Clay Fuqua of Indiana University; Robert Belas of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute’s Center of Marine Biotechnology; and José González of the University of La Laguna in Spain.

The S. pomeroyi genome offers the first real glimpse at the genetic material harbored by the Roseobacter group of bacteria, which have evolved metabolic strategies that allow them to flourish in marine environments. While scientists knew from laboratory studies that the microbe would metabolize sulfur, the genome sequence offered several surprises about how bacteria make a living in the ocean.

One unexpected finding from the genomic analysis was evidence of "lithoheterotrophy," the ability of marine bacteria that typically rely on organic carbon fixed by primary producers as their source of cell material to also use inorganic compounds (in this case, carbon monoxide and sulfur) for energy. In that way, the microbes can save more of the organic compounds for biosynthetic processes – allowing more efficient use of organic carbon in an environment that has little to go around.

"The microbe’s predicted ability to use such inorganic compounds was surprising," says Ward. "This study demonstrates how genome analysis allows us to propose new hypotheses of biological activity for a well-studied organism. We were able to test and confirm some of those hypotheses in the lab, providing more evidence for this lithohetrotropic strategy."

Another significant finding was that S. pomeroyi has numerous adaptations to living in association with ocean particles, so that it can take advantage of marine "hot spots," which feature rich areas of organic matter floating in an otherwise nutrient-poor ocean environment. The "hot spots" concept was first proposed more than a decade ago by Farooq Azam of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Moran says the S. pomeroyi sequence "demonstrates that genomes of ecologically relevant cultured microbes have enormous potential to move marine biogeochemical research forward at a rapid pace, both by generating hypotheses about how the ocean works and by providing tools to investigate these hypotheses in the ocean."

Moran and colleagues at UGA along with Ward, John Heidelberg, and other scientists at TIGR headed up the project, including genome sequencing and annotation as well as experimental demonstration of properties suggested by the genome sequence. Three other groups joined the project after annotation began because of their expertise in specific genes:

Gary King of the University of Maine confirmed that the genes which appeared to encode carbon monoxide oxidation were functional and that they allow the organism to oxidize CO at concentrations relevant to ocean waters.

Clay Fuqua and associates at Indiana University confirmed that the two putative quorum sensing systems were functional by showing that the S. pomeroyi genes produce signaling compounds when moved into E. coli.

Bob Belas and associates at UMBI’s Center of Marine Biotechnology annotated the microbe’s motility genes.

Robert Koenig | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tigr.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond
21.11.2017 | Emory Health Sciences

nachricht The main switch
21.11.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

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,...

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

Previous evidence of water on mars now identified as grainflows

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope completes final cryogenic testing

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond

21.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>