Every creature has its place and role in the oceans – even the smallest microbe, according to a new study that may lead to more accurate models of ocean change.
Scientists have long endorsed the concept of a unique biological niche for most animals and plants – a shark, for example, has a different role than a dolphin.
Bacteria instead have been relegated to an also-ran world of "functional redundancy" in which few species are considered unique, said Jed Fuhrman, holder of the McCulloch-Crosby Chair in Marine Biology in the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
In The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences' Early Edition, Fuhrman and colleagues from USC and Columbia University show that most kinds of bacteria are not interchangeable and that each thrives under predictable conditions and at predictable times.
Conversely, the kinds and numbers of bacteria in a sample can show where and when it was taken.
"I could tell you what month it is if you just got me a sample of water from out there," Fuhrman said.
The researchers took monthly bacteria samples for more than four years in the Pacific Ocean near the USC Wrigley Institute's marine laboratory on Catalina Island.
They used statistical methods to correlate the bacteria counts with the Wrigley Institute's monthly measurements of water temperature, salinity, nutrient content, plant matter and other variables.
The researchers found they could predict the makeup of the bacterial population by the conditions in the water more than four times in five.
A majority of bacterial species came and went predictably, Fuhrman said. A smaller "wild card" group in each sample was not predictable and could represent the bacterial equivalent of weeds and other redundant plants.
"Wherever we looked, we found predictable kinds, but within the groups there were always less predictable and more predictable members," Fuhrman said.
"They're just like animals and plants in the way they function in the system. Each one has its own place."
The findings have immediate relevance for scientists attempting to understand how the oceans are changing, Fuhrman said. If bacteria behave predictably, they can be used to improve models for ocean change.
By including bacteria, which make up the vast majority of species on land and sea, "we have some hope of predicting how changes are going to happen," Fuhrman said.
Carl Marziali | EurekAlert!
Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement
26.06.2017 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine
New insight into a central biological dogma on ion transport
26.06.2017 | Aarhus University
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
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...
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...
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...
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)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
26.06.2017 | Life Sciences
26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
26.06.2017 | Information Technology