Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fresh air in the sand: What drives bacteria in the North Sea

02.05.2017

Two new studies present exciting details on seafloor bacterial life in the North Sea.

Each year, close to five million Germans spent their holidays at the North Sea, relaxing on the beach or enjoying the beautiful nature of the Wadden Sea. However, the North Sea is more than just one of Germany’s top tourist destinations. It is also a fascinating ecosystem, significant for our everyday life and always good for a surprise.


LanceALot en route to a deployment. The device allows the simultaneous measurement of current velocity, seafloor oxygen concentration and bedform.

Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology


Map of the stations where Soeren Ahmerkamp and David Probandt conducted their measurements.

D. Probandt/Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology

That is why Soeren Ahmerkamp and David Probandt from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen spend a lot of time at the North Sea. The two researchers focus on sands – or, scientifically spoken, permeable coastal sediments. In two new publications the researchers describe how oxygen travels through the sand and what that means for the resident bacterial community.

„Sands cover large parts of the seafloor along the continental margins”, Soeren Ahmerkamp from the Department of Biogeochemistry at the MPI Bremen explains. „These sediments are much more permeable - meaning oxygen can penetrate much easier than the mostly muddy sediments of the deep ocean.“

When seawater is flushed through the sand it also transports oxygen into the seafloor, thereby stimulating the resident microorganisms. The more oxygen arrives, the more active the microorganisms are. That allows them to turn over large amounts of carbon and nitrogen, for example. „This is particularly important considering that rivers transport large amounts of nitrogen and other nutrients to the North Sea“, says David Probandt from MPI Bremen’s Department of Molecular Ecology.

„Until now, the interaction of sands and seawater was mainly investigated under laboratory conditions”, Ahmerkamp points out. “It is essential to investigate these processes under natural conditions to validate the laboratory findings and estimate their importance.”

Together with colleagues from the MPI Bremen, Ahmerkamp therefore developed a robot named LanceALot, which simultaneously scans the sea floor, measures the current velocity and determines the oxygen concentrations in the sand. LanceALot was deployed at 16 different locations in the North Sea to investigate the interplay of the controlling factors.

Ripples – the typical sand waves reminding of corrugated iron - play an important role. „The continuous movement of the ripples and changing tidal flows make sand a highly dynamic, i.e. a constantly constantly changing environment. Sometimes oxygen is present, sometimes it is not. Sometimes it penetrates several centimetres into the sand and a few minutes later it only reaches down to a few millimetres – the microorganisms need to adapt to this changing conditions”, Ahmerkamp says.

Thus, the sedimentary bacteria have to be flexible. „Each individual sand grain is a home to tens to hundreds of thousands of bacteria. Of course, they can set quite a few things in motion”, David Probandt points out. For example, as the bacteria remineralize carbon and nitrogen from the seawater, they transform these sands into giant filters. A lot of the substances carried into the sand with the seawater do not come out again. Thus, these substances are removed from the water.

To date, little is known about the bacterial inhabitants of the coast. Probandt and his colleagues took a close look at them with state-of-the-art molecular techniques and fluorescence microscopy. „Already in the uppermost five millimetres of the sediment, we find very different and much more diverse bacteria than in the seawater”, says Probandt.

„Who lives where is mainly determined by the composition of the seafloor. The more permeable it is for intruding seawater, the more aerobic bacteria we find.” The study also revealed that one group of bacteria, so-called Planctomycetes, are particularly abundant in coastal sediments. As opposed to other bacteria, Planctomycetes have a very complex life cycle and produce a variety of natural products. They could therefore also be specifically adapted to conditions in highly dynamic surface sediments. „Next, we want to find out if this is indeed the case“ Probandt emphasizes.

The sea floor along the coasts is heavily affected by human activities – from economic usage to nutrient input and climate change. The new studies point out the complexity of this habitat and the importance of its inhabitants. „The close cooperation of scientists from different disciplines allowed us to gain many new insights about this dynamic ecosystem “, stresses Probandt.

„There is still a lot to investigate in the North Sea and other coastal seas“, Ahmerkamp concludes. „The processes in these ecosystems and possible changes affect all of us.”

Original publications

S. Ahmerkamp, C. Winter, K. Krämer, D. de Beer, F. Janssen, J. Friedrichs, M. Kuypers und M. Holtappels (2017): Regulation of benthic oxygen fluxes in permeable sediments of the coastal ocean. Limnology and Oceanography.
DOI: 10.1002/lno.10544 (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/lno.10544/full)
This paper was produced in the framework of the MPI-marum cross-cutting-project 5 (CCP5) "Organic-matter remineralization and nutrient turnover in permeable sandy sediments”.

D. Probandt,. K. Knittel, H. E. Tegetmeyer, S. Ahmerkamp, M. Holtappels und R. Amann (2017): Permeability shapes bacterial communities in sublittoral surface sediments. Environmental Microbiology 19(4): 1584-1599.
DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.13676 (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1462-2920.13676/epdf)



Please direct your queries to

Dr. Soeren Ahmerkamp (https://www.mpi-bremen.de/Dr.-soeren-ahmerkamp.html)
David Probandt (https://www.mpi-bremen.de/David-Probandt.html)

or the press office

Dr. Fanni Aspetsberger
Dr. Manfred Schlösser
Phone: +49 421 2028 704
E-Mail: presse(at)mpi-bremen.de

Dr. Fanni Aspetsberger | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

nachricht NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

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...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

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...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

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...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

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....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>