Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Strange diet for methane consuming microorganisms

06.11.2012
Methane supplies the energy but is not the carbon source

Methane is formed under the absence of oxygen by natural biological and physical processes, e.g. in the sea floor. It is a much powerful green house gas than carbon dioxide.


Where the samples were taken: The Guaymas Basin on the West coast of Mexico.

Rita Dunker, MPI BRemen

Thanks to the activity of microorganisms this gas is inactivated, before it reaches the atmosphere and unfolds its harmful effects on Earth´s climate. Researchers from Bremen have proven that these microorganisms are quite picky about their diet. Now they have published their results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Carbon can be the basic structural element...

All life on Earth is based on carbon and its compounds. Cell components of all creatures contain carbon. The cell can take up this basic structural element via organic matter, or the cell build up its own organic matter from scratch, i.e. carbon dioxide. Researchers termed the first cells heterotrophs and the latter autotrophs. All plants, many bacteria and archaea are autotrophs, whereas all animals, including humans, are heterotrophs. The autotrophs form the basis for the life of the heterotrophs and all higher life by taking up inorganic carbon to form organic material.

…and can be the energy source

To keep the cellular systems running all cells need fuel. Methane can be such a fuel. When studying the methane consuming microbes discovered by Bremen scientists more than ten years ago it was assumed that they take the methane for filling up their energy tanks and using it as a carbon source, i.e, they were thought to be heterotrophs.

Now scientists from MARUM and the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology show in their PNAS research paper that this is surprisingly not the case and the methane derived carbon is not used as a carbon source. “Our growth studies clearly show that the labeled carbon in the methane never showed up directly in the cell material, but experiments with labeled carbon from carbon dioxide did. It was quite surprising, ” said PNAS author Matthias Kellermann. The archaea in the consortia behave like it is expected for chemoautotrophs.
“Archaea and the sulfate reducing bacteria are living close together in consortia, which are growing extremely slow. And only in the newly synthesized cell material we could find the answer for the question, from where the carbon originates,” adds Kai-Uwe Hinrichs, leader of the organic geochemistry group at MARUM.

Co-author Gunter Wegener from the Max Planck Institute concludes: ”With our new knowledge we can optimize our studies about the inactivation of methane in nature. Our surprising results tell us that we still know little details of this globally important process.”

Samples were retrieved from the Guaymas Basin on the West coast of Mexico from a depth of more the 2000 meters using the US diving submersible Alvin .

Manfred Schlösser

Further informations/ photo material/Interviews:
Dr. Manfred Schloesser, +49 421 2028704, mschloes mpi-bremen.de
Dr. Rita Dunker, +49 421 2028856, rdunker mpi-bremen.de
Albert Gerdes, +49 421 21865540, agerdesmarum.de

Institutions

Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen
MARUM – Center for Marine environmental Research at the University of Bremen

Original article
Autotrophy as a predominant mode of carbon fixation in anaerobic methane-oxidizing microbial communities
Matthias Y. Kellermann, Gunter Wegener, Marcus Elvert, Marcos Yukio Yoshinaga, Yu-Shih Lin,
Thomas Holler, Xavier Prieto Mollar, Katrin Knittel, and Kai-Uwe Hinrichs
PNAS doi/10.1073/pnas.1208795109

Dr. Manfred Schloesser | Max-Planck-Institut
Further information:
http://www.mpi-bremen.de/
http://www.marum.de/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>