Of the estimated 10,000 to 100,000 microbial species that inhabit our planet, scientists can only coax a few thousand to grow in the laboratory. As a result, efforts to categorize the vast diversity of microbes are lagging far behind attempts to classify plants, animals and insects. Now a report published in the current issue of the journal Science suggests that some of these so-called uncultivable microorganisms might not be so out of reach after all.
Tammi Kaeberlein, Kim Lewis and Klava Epstein of Northeastern University succeeded in growing pure cultures of elusive beach-growing bacteria by recreating their shore environment in the lab. The scientists collected blocks of beach and separated the microorganisms that reside on the sandy surface into sealed chambers, which were then set atop the sediment blocks inside aquariums. Though chemicals and nutrients could enter the chambers, the bacteria remained trapped. The novel experimental set-up garnered a nearly 300 percent increase in the number of microorganisms that produced colonies as compared with results achieved in conventional petri dishes. Moreover, the team isolated two previously unknown microbes, dubbed MSC1 and MSC2, and is analyzing nine others.
MSC1 (see image) and MSC2 also provided clues as to why some microorganisms refuse to grow in a stark laboratory dish even when ample nutrients are provided. The researchers discovered that culturing MSC1 and MSC2 in the specially designed chambers was easy but the bacteria would only grow in a petri dish if both strains were present. Because bacteria can use chemicals known as pheromones to communicate, the authors conclude that "it seems possible that microorganisms require specific signals originating from their neighbors that indicate the presence of a familiar environment."
Sarah Graham | American Scientist
More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy