Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UI biologist studies ocean plant cell adaptation in climate change

20.04.2009
How will plant cells that live in the oceans and serve as the basic food supply for many of the world's sea creatures react to climate change?

A University of Iowa biologist and faculty member in the Roy J. Carver Center for Comparative Genomics and his colleagues came one step closer to answering that question in a paper published in the April 9 issue of the journal Science.

Debashish Bhattacharya, professor of biological sciences in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is studying a tiny (about one micrometer in diameter) and diverse group of organisms called picoeukaryotes. So far, he has found that organisms from two isolated groups of the genus Micromonas -- which thrive in ecosystems ranging from tropical to polar -- look the same, but have evolved to contain different gene pools.

Bhattacharya said that understanding how these organisms change involves many issues.

The question, he said, is: "How do photosynthetic cells in the world's oceans recognize and adapt to their ever-changing environment and how will their latent abilities allow them to respond to climate change that will result in increased stratification and lower nutrient levels in the upper productive zone in oceans?

"To understand these complex issues, investigators need to generate gene catalogs from dominant plant organisms and understand how their genomes have evolved to thrive in vastly different oceanic regions ranging from near-shore to open ocean environments."

He said that the lead author of the Science article, Alexandra Z. Worden of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and collaborators, addressed these key issues in oceanography by sequencing to completion the nuclear genome of two globally distributed, bacterial-sized green algae named Micromonas. One isolated sample (RCC299) came from tropical waters in the Pacific Ocean, whereas the other (CCMP1545) came from temperate Atlantic coastal waters off Plymouth, England.

"These picoeukaryotes are indistinguishable using cell morphology but turn out to be enormously different at the genome level," Bhattacharya said. "On average, these isolates share only 90 percent of the roughly 10,000 genes each contains, indicating they comprise distinct species. More remarkable is the finding of novel repeated sequences that have spread into genes of Atlantic sample that are completely missing in the Pacific sample."

He said that it is unclear how these ubiquitous elements originated or what their function might be in the Atlantic sample, but their presence demonstrates the distinct genomic trajectory that the two species have taken.

"Overall the genomes of these Micromonas species show clear indications of selection acting on the gene pool with each containing a set of unique genes acquired by horizontal gene transfer that are not shared with the other," he said. "These genes likely hold clues to how each species has adapted to its own specific marine environment."

"The work highlights the extent to which genomic diversity is hidden by a simple, shared morphology and points to the need to decipher gene functions in Micromonas to understand their role in adapting to regimes that define myriad marine environments," he said.

Genome sequencing was done by the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute. Research in Bhattacharya's lab was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu

Gary Galluzzo | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uiowa.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein
24.01.2017 | Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY

nachricht Choreographing the microRNA-target dance
24.01.2017 | UT Southwestern Medical Center

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein

X-ray study throws light on key process for production

A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Choreographing the microRNA-target dance

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin

24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>