Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The usual suspects: A close-knit bacterial community cleans up blooming algae in the North Sea

15.04.2016

Every spring, algae bloom in the North Sea. In these blooms, different algae can come out on top each year. Nevertheless, within the bacteria subsequently degrading the algae, the same specialised groups prevail year after year.

Thousands and thousands of tiny algae inhabit every millilitre in the ocean. Their impact is massive: Together they produce as much oxygen and remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as land plants. However, the algae are short-lived. After their death, bacteria decompose them. In the process, the majority of the carbon dioxide previously taken up is released again.


Schematic view of the described processes

Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Manfred Schlösser

More than 5 million bacterial genes give a glimpse into microbial processes in the German Bight

To understand this aspect of the marine carbon cycle we thus need to investigate how the bacterial community in the ocean decomposes the algae. Therefore, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in collaboration with the Biologische Anstalt Helgoland of the Alfred Wegener Institute conducted an extensive study of bacterial and algal dynamics off the island of Helgoland during the annual spring bloom.

The researchers led by Hanno Teeling, Bernhard Fuchs and Rudolf Amann from the Bremen Max Planck Institute analysed more than 11,000 data points over a period of four years. They analysed nearly 450 billion base pairs of the meta-genome of the resident bacterial communities.

Thereby, they gained information on more than 5 million bacterial genes – corresponding to roughly 200 times the genes of the human genome. There are so many data that the online open access publication, instead of conventional pictures, contains entire posters.

Specialised bacteria break down algal biomass

"From a previous study we know that the bacterial community changes as it degrades the algae spring bloom," says Hanno Teeling. Specialised bacterial groups accompany different stages of the bloom and gradually degrade most of the algal biomass.

“The present study reveals: It’s obviously far less important than we thought which algae just have their heyday. In different years, different types of algae can dominate the spring bloom ", explains Bernhard Fuchs. "Regardless, we have always observed a similar sequence of dominant groups of bacteria."

Apparently not the algae themselves but rather their components – above all chains of sugar molecules, the so-called polysaccharides – determine which bacteria will thrive. „It is thus possible that year after year the same bacteria appear, even though the algal bloom can be quite different”, Fuchs explains.

For example: Between 2009 and 2011 diatoms were most abundant in the spring bloom, while in 2012 silicoflagellates of the genus Chattonella prevailed. Nevertheless, the bacterial community that accompanied the bloom was very similar through all those years. This is particularly true within the group Flavobacteria, which seem to play a key role in the degradation of algal polysaccharides. During all four years of the study, Flavobacteria of the genera Polaribacter and Formosa were most abundant.

And it’s not only the bacterial groups always showing the same patterns. „Taking a detailed look at the bacterial genes and what they are actually responsible for, it became clear: It is always a similar temporal sequence of genes that regulate the degradation of certain polysaccharides," states Hanno Teeling. "This suggests that different algae in the spring bloom have similar or even the same polysaccharides."

New parts in the carbon puzzle

Next, the researchers from Bremen want to take a close look at the bacterial enzymes that degrade the algal polysaccharides. Which enzymes attack which polysaccharides? What are their exact structures? "From this we can deduce which the main algal polysaccharides are," explains Rudolf Amann. "And with this information we can then add another piece to the puzzle in our understanding of the carbon cycle of the ocean."

Original publication

Recurring patterns in bacterioplankton dynamics during coastal spring algae blooms
Hanno Teeling, Bernhard Fuchs, Christin Bennke, Karen Krüger, Meghan Chafee, Lennart Kappelmann, Greta Reintjes, Jost Waldmann, Christian Quast, Frank Oliver Glöckner, Judith Lucas, Antje Wichels, Gunnar Gerdts, Karen Wiltshire, Rudolf Amann

Contact
Dr. Hanno Teeling / 0421 2028 976 / hteeling@mpi-bremen.de
PD Dr. Bernhard Fuchs / 0421 2028 935 / bfuchs@mpi-bremen.de
Prof. Dr. Rudolf Amann / 0421 2028 930 / ramann@mpi-bremen.de

or the press office
Dr. Manfred Schlösser / 0421 2028 704 / presse@mpi-bremen.de
Dr. Fanni Aspetsberger / 0421 2028 947 / presse@mpi-bremen.de

Participating institutes
Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Helgoland and List auf Sylt, Germany

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.mpi-bremen.de
http://elifesciences.org/content/5/e11888v1

Dr. Manfred Schloesser | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Closing the carbon loop
08.12.2016 | University of Pittsburgh

nachricht Newly discovered bacteria-binding protein in the intestine
08.12.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

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:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

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...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

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...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

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...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>