Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Lost at sea: Far off the coast, Thioglobus perditus lives off its reserve pack

04.05.2018

SUP05 bacteria are often found in places where there is really no basis for life for them. Researchers in Bremen have now discovered that they are even quite active there – possibly with consequences for the global nitrogen cycle. The bacteria travel with a “reserve pack”. In addition, the researchers have deciphered the bacteria’s genome. The results have now been published in the journal Nature Communications.

The SUP05 bacterial population puzzles researchers. Why, for example, are these microbes found in the open ocean, even though there is no basis for life for them there? SUP05 bacteria use the sulfur compound hydrogen sulfide as a source of energy, and this is mostly only found near the coasts.


View of the Paracas peninsula from the research ship. Here Thioglobus perditus thrive before being flushed further out into the open ocean.

Gaute Lavik, MPIMM


Launch of a glider off the coast of Peru.

Anna Reichel, GEOMAR

Together with the Collaborative Research Center 754 of GEOMAR and the University of Kiel, a group of researchers around Marcel Kuypers from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen has now found some answers: In the sea off Peru during a trip with the research ship Meteor the researchers discovered a representative of the bacterial population that carries its own reserve of sulfur.

In addition the researchers succeeded in deciphering the entire genome of the bacterium. The microbe has quasi received an identification card. Name: Thioglobus perditus, analogous to the “lost sulfur ball“. “Following the decoding of the genome we then developed a gene test, with the help of which we are now able to identify this microbe precisely”, says Cameron Callbeck, first author of the study, who has meanwhile moved from the MPI Bremen to the Swiss Eawag.

Thioglobus perditus transforms sulfide to sulfate using nitrate to breath, and obtains the energy for life from this chemical transformation. The bacteria is distributed worldwide in coastal upwelling regions where hydrogen sulfide diffuses upward from the seafloor.

There the Thioglobus perditus metabolism performs ecologically important services: the reaction converts not only sulfide, which is poisonous for other organisms, to its less toxic elemental sulfur form, but also removes carbon dioxide and transforms nitrate to non-reactive dinitrogen gas.

Now the researchers in Bremen have discovered that the bacterium is not only active in coastal regions. Repeatedly, SUP05 bacteria have also been found further out at sea in waters containing no dissolved sulfide. But how can the organism exist under such sub-optimal conditions?

“Nobody really knew what they are doing there. Are they active at all?“, asks Gaute Lavik from the Max Planck Institute in Bremen, cruise leader of the Meteor journey. With nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry, in short NanoSIMS, researchers have for the first time undertaken measurements of individual Thioglobus perditus bacteria cells in the environment. T

he researchers were thus able to directly gain insights into the biochemical processes operating in the individual SUP05 cells in the environment. These bacteria seem to carry a reserve pack of elemental sulfur. They furthermore possess the necessary cellular machinery to transform elemental sulfur. If the currents carry Thioglobus perditus off the coast to the open sea, the microbe presumably lives off these reserves. As sulfur disappears from the water, the bacteria also vanish.

“The ability to store and grow on elemental sulfur enables the Thioglobus perditus cells also to remain active far from sulfide-rich coastal waters, at least for a limited time”, says co-author Tim Ferdelman from the Bremer Max Planck Institute. “As part of the current study we have for the first time determined how quickly individual cells of SUP05 bacteria take-up carbon dioxide in the environment, and thus grow in these waters. This makes them potentially interesting actors in the global cycles of carbon and nitrogen”, says Ferdelman.

Original publication:

Cameron Callbeck, Gaute Lavik, Timothy G. Ferdelman, Bernhard Fuchs, Harald R. Gruber-Vodicka, Philipp F. Hach, Sten Littmann, Niels S. Schoffelen, Tim Kalvelage, Soren Thomsen, Harald Schnuck, Carolin Löscher, Ruth A. Schmitz, Marcel M. M. Kuypers: “Oxygen minimum zone‚ cryptic sulfur cycling sustained by offshore transport of key sulfur oxidizing bacteria”. Nature Communications
doi:10.1038/s41467-018-04041-x

Participating institutes:

Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany
GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
Institute of General Microbiology, University of Kiel

The study was developed as part of the Collaborative Research Centre SFB 754 “Climate-Biogeochemistry interactions in the Tropical Ocean”, a cooperation project of the Christian Albrechts University of Kiel and the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel.

The Collaborative Research Centre 754 (SFB 754) “Climate-Biogeochemistry Interactions in the Tropical Ocean” has been funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) since 2008. This project involves scientists from the Christian Albrechts University Kiel (CAU), GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and the Max Planck Institute Bremen.

NanoSIMS: Deep view into the cell

Secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) is a method from surface physics used to examine the composition of fixed surfaces and thin layers. The further developed nanoscale secondary ions mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS) has a special optical design that makes a spatial dissolution of ca. 50 nanometres possible. This is a twentieth a millionth of a metre.
The large equipment at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen is one of some twenty such devices worldwide. These are mainly employed in meteorite and material science. In Bremen, the workings of biological structures and individual cells were researched for the first time.

UThioglobus perditus: Identified but not cultivated

The researchers in Bremen have identified the genome of the protozoon SUP05. Thanks to this genome, they were able to give it a proper biological name: Thioglobus perditus – inspired through the fact that the “globus” bacteria bind sulfur (thio) compounds and are active not only offshore but also further out at sea, that they are so-to-say “lost” (perditus) at sea.
Technically speaking before the Latin designation there is a superscript U. In the system of biological nomenclature this stands for “uncultivated”. It means that the biological species Thioglobus perditus can certainly be genetically identified, but it cannot be enriched in a pure laboratory culture. Such microbes for example need unknown additional substances to grow, or they depend on interactions with other organisms from their surroundings.

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.mpi-bremen.de

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

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cohesin - a molecular motor that folds our genome
22.11.2019 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht Chemists create new route to PHAs: naturally degradable bioplastics
22.11.2019 | Colorado State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Machine learning microscope adapts lighting to improve diagnosis

Prototype microscope teaches itself the best illumination settings for diagnosing malaria

Engineers at Duke University have developed a microscope that adapts its lighting angles, colors and patterns while teaching itself the optimal...

Im Focus: Small particles, big effects: How graphene nanoparticles improve the resolution of microscopes

Conventional light microscopes cannot distinguish structures when they are separated by a distance smaller than, roughly, the wavelength of light. Superresolution microscopy, developed since the 1980s, lifts this limitation, using fluorescent moieties. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research have now discovered that graphene nano-molecules can be used to improve this microscopy technique. These graphene nano-molecules offer a number of substantial advantages over the materials previously used, making superresolution microscopy even more versatile.

Microscopy is an important investigation method, in physics, biology, medicine, and many other sciences. However, it has one disadvantage: its resolution is...

Im Focus: Atoms don't like jumping rope

Nanooptical traps are a promising building block for quantum technologies. Austrian and German scientists have now removed an important obstacle to their practical use. They were able to show that a special form of mechanical vibration heats trapped particles in a very short time and knocks them out of the trap.

By controlling individual atoms, quantum properties can be investigated and made usable for technological applications. For about ten years, physicists have...

Im Focus: Images from NJIT's big bear solar observatory peel away layers of a stellar mystery

An international team of scientists, including three researchers from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), has shed new light on one of the central mysteries of solar physics: how energy from the Sun is transferred to the star's upper atmosphere, heating it to 1 million degrees Fahrenheit and higher in some regions, temperatures that are vastly hotter than the Sun's surface.

With new images from NJIT's Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO), the researchers have revealed in groundbreaking, granular detail what appears to be a likely...

Im Focus: New opportunities in additive manufacturing presented

Fraunhofer IFAM Dresden demonstrates manufacturing of copper components

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden has succeeded in using Selective Electron Beam Melting (SEBM) to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

First International Conference on Agrophotovoltaics in August 2020

15.11.2019 | Event News

Laser Symposium on Electromobility in Aachen: trends for the mobility revolution

15.11.2019 | Event News

High entropy alloys for hot turbines and tireless metal-forming presses

05.11.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cohesin - a molecular motor that folds our genome

22.11.2019 | Life Sciences

Magnesium deprivation stops pathogen growth

22.11.2019 | Health and Medicine

Detecting mental and physical stress via smartphone

22.11.2019 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>