Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Metagenomics of the Deep Mediterranean

19.09.2007
Metagenomics is a revolutionary approach to study microbes. Rather than isolating pure cultures, the power of high-throughput sequencing is applied directly to environmental samples to obtain information about the genomes of the prokaryotic cells present in a specific habitat studied.

The ocean is an ideal subject of this approach because of its enormous microbiota, whose biomass equals that of all other living organisms on earth is mostly microbial, and also because most of these microbes are extremely fastidious to cultivate.

Craig Venter pioneered these studies and has sampled the surface of the World oceans, but has only scraped the surface. Only one study carried out in Hawaii Ocean Time Series (or HOT) station has analyzed the metagenome of different depths down to 4000m showing the enormous diversity hidden there. This article describes the second study of the bathypelagic region, in this case at a station located over the Ionian abyssal plain, a flat deep basin occupying most of the space between Sicily and Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean. The deep waters of the Mediterranean are special in being free from the intrusion of polar waters that feed most the bottom of the global ocean. The Ionian sample comes from 3000 m deep and is submitted to a continuous pressure of 300 Kg/cm2 but contrastingly to most deep ocean habitats this has a relatively warm temperature of nearly 14ºC.

In general, a remarkable number of similarities were found with the deep meso-pelagic Pacific and a convergence at the level of taxa found and types of metabolism with the soil microbiota is starting to be perceived. The authors use the term “invisible soil” paraphrasing the “invisible forest” coined by Paul Falkowski to refer to the hidden but gigantic primary productivity found in the photic zone. The diversity of metabolic enzymes involved in resilient organic compounds degradation was very high. However, many microbes could complement their heterotrophic metabolism with chemolithotrophic energy supplies and, specifically in the Mediterranean, the oxidation of carbon monoxide, probably released by tectonic activity, could be important. There is also evidence that the microbes rarely live isolated. The free living planktonic lifestyle is probably not very popular in this extremely depleted environment. Quorum sensing genes indicate that instead, microbes tend to aggregate in particles and they could become luminescent maybe to attract and be eaten by animals. This strategy could provide the cells with a sporadic visit to the nutritious oasis of an animal gut. Overall, this paper shows that the deep ocean possesses a rich and mostly unknown microbiota that deserves much more studies.

A recent analysis of a metagenomic library from the deep Mediterranean shows a surprising high number of quorum sensing or lux genes that are only expressed when bacteria live in colonies. The deep ocean might be too depleted in resources for microbes to live independently. Instead the association to detritus particles might give them a rich microenvironment. Now, some of the genes detected have been positively identified as luxA, directly involved in bioluminescence.

Why would deep sea bacteria be luminescent? One possible explanation is that they become attractive to animals that at these depths are very photosensitive. Being swallowed by one of these creatures would give the bacteria a temporary oasis of nutrient-rich conditions before another long dip in the abyssal black.

Dr Rodriguez-Valera’s paper, entitled, “Metagenomics of the Deep Mediterranean, a Warm Bathypelagic Habitat,” appears in the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE on September 19.

Andrew Hyde | alfa
Further information:
http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0000914

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Scientists turn carbon emissions into usable energy
21.01.2019 | Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST)

nachricht Ten-year anniversary of the Neumayer Station III
18.01.2019 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Bifacial Stem Cells Produce Wood and Bast

Heidelberg researchers study one of the most important growth processes on Earth

So-called bifacial stem cells are responsible for one of the most critical growth processes on Earth – the formation of wood.

Im Focus: Energizing the immune system to eat cancer

Abramson Cancer Center study identifies method of priming macrophages to boost anti-tumor response

Immune cells called macrophages are supposed to serve and protect, but cancer has found ways to put them to sleep. Now researchers at the Abramson Cancer...

Im Focus: Ten-year anniversary of the Neumayer Station III

The scientific and political community alike stress the importance of German Antarctic research

Joint Press Release from the BMBF and AWI

The Antarctic is a frigid continent south of the Antarctic Circle, where researchers are the only inhabitants. Despite the hostile conditions, here the Alfred...

Im Focus: Ultra ultrasound to transform new tech

World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles

The new sensor - capable of detecting vibrations of living cells - may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.

Im Focus: Flying Optical Cats for Quantum Communication

Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.

In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

11th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Aachen, 3-4 April 2019

14.01.2019 | Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

How our cellular antennas are formed

22.01.2019 | Life Sciences

Proposed engineering method could help make buildings and bridges safer

22.01.2019 | Architecture and Construction

Bifacial Stem Cells Produce Wood and Bast

22.01.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>