Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cloning the smell of the seaside

02.02.2007
Scientists from the University of East Anglia have discovered exactly what makes the seaside smell like the seaside – and bottled it!

The age-old mystery was unlocked thanks to some novel bacteria plucked from the North Norfolk coast.

Prof Andrew Johnston and his team at UEA isolated this microbe from the mud at Stiffkey saltmarsh to identify and extract the single gene responsible for the emission of the strong-smelling gas, dimethyl sulphide (DMS).

“On bracing childhood visits to the seaside we were always told to ‘breathe in that ozone, it’s good for you’,” said Prof Johnston.

... more about:
»DMS »Johnston »seaside

“But we were misled, twice over. Firstly because that distinctive smell is not ozone, it is dimethyl sulphide. And secondly, because inhaling it is not necessarily good for you.”

DMS is a little known but important gas. Across the world’s oceans, seas and coasts, tens of millions of tonnes of it are released by microbes that live near plankton and marine plants, including seaweeds and some salt-marsh plants. The gas plays an important role in the formation of cloud cover over the oceans, with major effects on climate. Indeed, the phenomenon was used by James Lovelock as a plank to underpin his ‘Gaia hypothesis’.

DMS is also a remarkably effective food marker for ocean-going birds such as shearwaters and petrels. It acts as a homing scent – like Brussels sprouts at the Christmas dinner table! - and the birds sniff out their plankton food in the lonely oceans at astonishingly low concentrations.

Scientists have known about DMS for many years but the genes responsible for its production have never before been identified. The new findings will be published in the journal Science on Friday February 2.

“By isolating a single gene from a bacterium collected from the mud of Stiffkey marshes, we deduced that the mechanisms involved in DMS production differ markedly from those that had been predicted,” said Prof Johnston. “And we discovered that other, wholly unexpected bacteria could also make that seaside smell.”

The discovery adds to the diverse list of Stiffkey’s claims to fame. The small coastal village is renowned for its ‘Stewkey Blue’ cockles and was also the home of Henry Williamson, author of ‘Tarka the Otter’.

A more controversial figure from Siffkey’s past was its rector, Rev Harold Davidson, who was defrocked in 1932 after allegedly ‘cavorting with’ London prostitutes. He later joined a circus and died after being mauled to death by a lion in Skegness. The UEA scientists are hoping to avoid such a fate, said Prof Johnston!

Press Office | alfa
Further information:
http://www.uea.ac.uk

Further reports about: DMS Johnston seaside

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 >>>