Now, new research led by a marine microbial ecologist at the University of Georgia is showing for the first time that the roles played by bacteria in coastal waters aren’t nearly as specific as some scientists suspected. In fact, these bacteria are generalists in how they get their nourishment and may have the option of doing many different things, depending on what works best at the time.
While the new research confirms predictions by ecological theorists, it is among the first clear demonstrations at the experimental level that coastal ocean bacteria can act as “tidewater utility infielders,” changing their functions depending on local food supply.
“If you asked me earlier how different species of coastal bacteria use their available food supplies, I would have said each species is optimized for very specialized uses,” said Mary Ann Moran. “But our new research says most are carrying out multiple processes when it comes to carbon cycling.”
The research was just published in the journal Nature. Co-authors on the paper are postdoctoral associate Xiaozhen Mou, bioinformaticist Shulei Sun and professor emeritus Robert Hodson, all of the University of Georgia, and Robert Edwards of San Diego State University.
Learning just how everything works together in the oceans has been a daunting task, but scientists agree that it is crucial. The paper published in Nature specifically examined the metabolic capabilities of bacteria involved in breaking down organic carbon compounds.
Scientists don’t yet understand much about how the various genes in ocean bacteria are packaged together. But as the ocean changes, they would like to model and predict how the processes mediated by the genes could be affected.
Only in the past 15 years have scientists been able to begin identifying the bacteria in oceans at all. Part of this is simply because ocean bacteria are notoriously hard to culture in the lab, and many can’t be cultured yet at all. This makes studying them extremely difficult. New methods, however, are making such studies easier. One of them, which formed the basis for this research, is metagenomics, which bypasses the culturing step entirely by directly sequencing the mixture of bacterial genomes in seawater.
Understanding more about the genomes of bacteria has allowed researchers to ask much narrower questions than ever before, and the result has been a new ability to understand how marine bacteria live and interact in the ocean.
The research in the current study was done in an area off the coast of Sapelo Island, Ga., and while the findings about bacterial generalists may hold true for similar coastal ecosystems, researchers don’t know if the same will be true in deep-ocean or other sea environments.
“We can understand a great deal about the health of the oceans by understanding more about how the bacteria that live in our coastal waters function,” said Moran.
The idea for bacterial generalists isn’t new, but this is the first experimental evidence for marine coastal bacteria as generalists.
Kim Osborne | EurekAlert!
Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany
25.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Betriebsfestigkeit und Systemzuverlässigkeit LBF
Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
17.07.2018 | Information Technology
17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering