New species discovered on the Great Barrier Reef
Between the grains of sand on the sea floor there is an unknown and unexplored world. Pierre De Wit at Gothenburg University knows this well, and has found new animal species on the Great Barrier Reef, in New Caledonia and in the sea off the Gullmarsfjord in the Swedish county of Bohuslän.
The layer of sand on ocean floor is home to a large part of the vast diversity of marine species. Species representing almost all classes of marine animals live here. The genus Grania, which belongs to the class of annelid worms Clitellata, is one of them.
The new species of Grania discovered off the Gullmarsfjord. Photograph: Pierre De Wit
Grania the globetrotter
Grania is a worm around two centimetres in length and mostly white, which is encountered in marine sand throughout the world, from the tidal zone to deep down in the ocean. The researcher Pierre De Wit, at the Department of Zoology of the University of Gothenburg, is analysing exactly how many species of Grania there are and how they are related to other organisms.
Four new species
De Wit has conducted studies at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, where he and his colleagues have found four entirely new species of the Grania worm. One of them is the beautifully green-coloured Grania colorata.
"These worms are usually colourless or white, and we have not been able to work out why this particular species is green," says De Wit.
De Wit has also found a previously unknown worm in Scandinavia, dubbed Grania occulta, which can only be distinguished from a previously known species by DNA. The worms' genetics show that the evolutionary history of the two species is in fact entirely separate, and that one of them is actually more closely related to a species that looks completely different.
"Species that were previously regarded as the same may prove to have a completely different function in the ecosystem, and have different tolerance of environmental toxins, for example. It is obviously important to know this in order to be able to take the right action to protect our fauna," says de Wit.
Helena Aaberg | idw
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
New technique promises tunable laser devices
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...