Scientists have discovered a bacterial "switch gene" in two groups of microscopic plankton common in the oceans. The gene helps determine whether certain marine plankton convert a sulfur compound to one that rises into the atmosphere, where it can affect the earth's temperature, or remain in the sea, where it can be used as a nutrient.
"This new gene offers a powerful tool to study the question of how these plankton are involved with sulfur exchange between the ocean and atmosphere," said Mary Ann Moran, marine microbial ecologist at the University of Georgia. Moran and her colleagues published their findings in the Oct. 26, 2006, issue of the journal Science.
Much of the sulfur in the atmosphere comes from the surface of oceans, from a compound called dimethlysulfide, or DMS. Marine plankton control how much sulfur rises into the atmosphere by converting a compound called DMSP, or dimethylsulfoniopropionate, to DMS or to sulfur compounds that are not climatically active. Moran and her team discovered a gene that controls whether or not these sea drifters create DMS that rises into the air.
"Isolating and discovering a novel, keystone bacterium from the ocean first, and then sequencing its genome enabled this team to find the genes involved in the DMSP cycle," said Matthew Kane, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, which supported the research. "The research has revealed the previously hidden role that marine microbes play in the global sulfur cycle."
The researchers discovered that microscopic plankton that fall under the Roseobacter and SAR11 organism groups are the primary plankton involved in directing DMSP away from forming DMS, and thus making sulfur unavailable to atmospheric processes.
Dramatic advances in understanding how these plankton work have developed in the past few years with the availability of new genomic data. The scientists searched genome fragments of these plankton, looking for specific gene sequences that would show how the plankton use sulfur compounds.
"This breakthrough in the microbial physiology of DMSP metabolism opens the door to understanding the biology and ecology of this globally important process," said William Whitman, a microbiologist at the University of Georgia and co-author of the Science paper. The discovery of a bacterial gene switch in these two groups of plankton will open new areas of research, since DMSP synthesis may account for almost all marine-created atmospheric sulfur. The findings also expand knowledge of how these marine organisms are involved in the routing of carbon and sulfur into the microbial food web.
Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!
Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine