Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017

Microbes in the atmosphere and the role of the oceans in their movement have been largely overlooked by researchers. Now, an international team shows that the oceans contribute to a large fraction of the microbes found in the global atmosphere.

Understanding the oceans' role as a source and sink for airborne microbes can provide insight into the maintenance of microbial diversity and how human, animal and plant pathogens spread over oceans and between landmasses.


At sea on the Malaspana 2010 Circumnavigation Expedition.

Credit: © 2016 Joan Costa

The team, which included researchers from KAUST as well as several Spanish and French organizations, expected that they would find many more microbes over land than over water. What they didn't know was how many microbes actually exist in the atmosphere over the oceans.

More than 100 air samples were collected from tropical and subtropical regions over the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans during an eight-month marine research expedition -- the Malaspina 2010 Circumnavigation Expedition -- that began in December 2010.

"We found that the atmosphere is a vector for the long-range transport -- typically 4,000Km -- of airborne microbes, including bacteria and fungi among others, says Carlos Duarte of KAUST's Red Sea Research Center, who led the study. "Even in the open ocean, more than half of the microbial load in the atmosphere is derived from land." Atmospheric transport may be important in redistributing pathogens across the globe, he adds.

The team found an average of 67,000 prokaryotes (non-nucleus-containing single-celled organisms like bacteria) per cubic meter of sampled air over the oceans compared to 190,000 bacteria per cubic meter of air over land. They also found an average of 32,000 eukaryotes (nucleus-containing microbes like fungi) per cubic meter of sampled air over the oceans compared to 240,000 fungal spores found per cubic meter of atmosphere over land.

The maximum values of eukaryotes were found over the North Atlantic and East Pacific, most likely affected by African and Asian dust-related events in these regions.

The team conducted genetic analyses and found 25% of the microbes in the atmosphere above the oceans were of marine origin, while 42% were land-based organisms and the remaining 24% were undetermined. More than 50% of the microbes in samples taken from the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans, which were far from landmasses and influenced by marine air masses, were of terrestrial or undetermined origin.

"The results open up a new suite of research questions, including atmospheric pathways for the dispersal of pathogens, the role of small islands as stepping stones for the cross-basin transport of land microbes across vast distances, and the role these organisms play in condensing particles, including rain drops, in the atmosphere," says Duarte.

He and his team have followed up with research on microbial loads over the Mediterranean Sea and the Arctic Ocean. They are also studying dust-associated organisms over the Red Sea.

Carolyn Unck | EurekAlert!

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 >>>