Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Gotcha! Microbial “methane eaters” use gas bubbles to rise from the seafloor into the water column

30.07.2015

Novel bubble catcher provides proof of a so far unknown transport process, with potential implications for the reduction of the greenhouse gas methane in the marine environment

To improve our knowledge on the role microorganisms play in the process of regulating methane in the sea, scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde (IOW) developed a novel instrument to detect the transport of microorganisms via methane gas bubbles ascending from the seafloor.


Bubble funnel of the IOW bubble catchers above one of the methane seeps of the research area

University of California


IOW bubble catchers in action at the coast of California: Project leader Oliver Schmale (r.) securing water samples together with Jens Schneider v. Deimling (GEOMAR, left) and Katrin Kießlich (IOW)

IOW

With the successful deployment of this bubble catcher, they provided first-time proof that together with the gas bubbles, methane-consuming bacteria can get from the sediment into the water column. These so called methanotrophic bacteria play an important role in the reduction of the methane fluxes from the ocean to the atmosphere. Thus, they influence the climate on earth, as methane is a highly efficient greenhouse gas.

One of the major goals in current environmental research is to understand how the greenhouse gas methane finds its way into the atmosphere and which processes can affect this flux. Oceanographers, too, put a focus of their investigations on marine sources of methane all over the world oceans. Examples of these sources are subsea mud volcanoes, cold hydrocarbon seeps and sediments rich in organic matter from coastal seas like the Baltic Sea.

Microorganisms are adapted to this comprehensive and versatile supply: within the water column, mainly methane-oxidizing bacteria are using methane as a source of energy and carbon, while at the seafloor mainly methanotrophic archaea assume this part. Both groups are transforming the methane into carbonate and biomass or carbon dioxide – which in comparison with methane is a less potent greenhouse gas. This process, in general, prevents seafloor-borne methane from ascending to the sea surface and into the atmosphere.

This microbial methane filter does no longer function once the methane seepage becomes so intense that the gas is liberated in form of gas bubbles from the seafloor. Because of a high velocity of the bubbles, methane will then pass the zone where the methane-consuming microorganisms live too quickly. With the novel bubble catcher from Rostock the scientists investigated whether methanotrophic bacteria from the sediment can participate in this upward shuttle and the surrounding water continuously gets inoculated by these bacteria.

It is known from other aquatic environments – like for example groundwater – that bubbles can transport microorganisms on their surface. But the bubble-mediated transport between sediment and water column was left unobserved up to now. To provide proof of such a process, however, is not easily done as the bubbles and the attached microorganisms have to be caught directly above the seep without contamination.

The scientists from the IOW together with their colleagues from the GEOMAR Institute in Kiel and the University of California succeeded with a pilot study off the coast of California above a natural seep of methane in catching the emerging bubbles by means of a cylinder filled with artificial sterile sea water. Subsequent microscopic analyses (CARD-FISH) revealed that the bubbles were accompanied by methane oxidizing bacteria.

Oliver Schmale: „We know now that the gas bubbles transport these bacteria from the sediment into the water column. Whether the organisms stay active in their new surrounding and thus can reduce the transport of this greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, must be clarified by further studies.”

Financed by the German Science Foundation (DFG), the investigations and results described here were recently published in the journal Continental Shelf Research: Schmale, O., I. Leifer, J. S. v. Deimling, C. Stolle, S. Krause, K. Kießlich, A. Frahm and T. Treude (2015). Bubble transport mechanism: indications for a gas bubble-mediated inoculation of benthic methanotrophs into the water column. Cont. Shelf Res. 103: 70-78, doi:10.1016/j.csr.2015.04.022

*Contact:
Dr. Oliver Schmale, Department Marine Chemistry, Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, phone: +49 381 5197 305, oliver.schmale@io-warnemuende.de

Dr. Barbara Hentzsch, Press Officer, Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, phone : +49 381 5197 102, barbara.hentzsch@io-warnemuende.de

The IOW is a member of the Leibniz Association with currently 89 research institutes and scientific infrastructure facilities. The focus of the Leibniz Institutes ranges from natural, engineering and environmental sciences to economic, social and space sciences as well as to the humanities. The institutes are jointly financed at the state and national levels. The Leibniz Institutes employ a total of 18.100 people, of whom 9.200 are scientists. The total budget of the institutes is 1.64 billion Euros. (http://www.leibniz-association.eu)

Dr. Barbara Hentzsch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

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: 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....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

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...

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

Metal too 'gummy' to cut? Draw on it with a Sharpie or glue stick, science says

19.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

NSF-supported researchers to present new results on hurricanes and other extreme events

19.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells

19.07.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>