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!
Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences