Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate changing gas from some surprising microbial liaisons

02.04.2008
The climate changing gas dimethyl sulphide (DMS) is being made by microbes at the rate of more than 200 million tonnes a year in the world’s seas, scientists heard today (Tuesday 1 April 2008) at the Society for General Microbiology’s 162nd meeting being held this week at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

“This gas has many different effects”, says Dr Andrew Curson from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. “It triggers clouds to form over the oceans – and clouds are amongst the worlds most potent climate cooling factors; it attracts birds by alerting them to a food supply; and it smells – that typical seaside smell.”

The source of the dimethyl sulphide gas is another sulphur compound made by many seaweeds and marine plankton as an anti-stress protection. Some marine bacteria can break down this compound to release chemical energy, and dimethyl sulphide is given off as a by-product, with about 10% finding its way up into the atmosphere.

“Using genetic analysis, we showed for the first time that different types of bacteria could degrade the sulphurous compound made by phytoplankton in different ways. We even found some species of bacteria that could use multiple methods to break down and release dimethyl sulphide,” says Dr Curson.

... more about:
»Curson »bacteria »microbes »sulphide

The research identified the genes needed to make DMS, and the scientists had three surprises. The first was that different bacteria use completely different biochemical mechanisms to break down compounds from phytoplankton. Secondly, the mechanisms that scientists predicted bacteria would use were generally not the ones observed during the investigation. Finally, the scientists were surprised when they identified some “terrestrial” microbes that had never even been suspected of making dimethyl sulphide gas, which have significant ecological and evolutionary consequences.

“These multiple-use genes, which we were particularly interested in, are rampantly transferred between microbes that are very distantly related. By comparing the gene sequences to some massive databases, we could predict which other microbes could also make dimethyl sulphide, even though no-one had previously suspected that they had this ability,” says Dr Curson. “This has given us new insights into the who, the how, and the where in the world microbes are producing a gas that affects our planet in so many ways”.

“We have really only just begun to interpret our findings, and to work out how significant this is. For instance, we have very recently found dimethyl sulphide producing bacteria in the guts of herrings – what does that mean?” says Dr Curson. “We don’t yet even know the entire biochemical pathway for any of the three systems we have discovered. If we want to understand climate change better, we have lots to do.”

Lucy Goodchild | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.sgm.ac.uk

Further reports about: Curson bacteria microbes sulphide

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Colorectal cancer: Increased life expectancy thanks to individualised therapies
20.02.2020 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Sweet beaks: What Galapagos finches and marine bacteria have in common
20.02.2020 | Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A step towards controlling spin-dependent petahertz electronics by material defects

The operational speed of semiconductors in various electronic and optoelectronic devices is limited to several gigahertz (a billion oscillations per second). This constrains the upper limit of the operational speed of computing. Now researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg, Germany, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay have explained how these processes can be sped up through the use of light waves and defected solid materials.

Light waves perform several hundred trillion oscillations per second. Hence, it is natural to envision employing light oscillations to drive the electronic...

Im Focus: Freiburg researcher investigate the origins of surface texture

Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.

Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...

Im Focus: Skyrmions like it hot: Spin structures are controllable even at high temperatures

Investigation of the temperature dependence of the skyrmion Hall effect reveals further insights into possible new data storage devices

The joint research project of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that had previously demonstrated...

Im Focus: Making the internet more energy efficient through systemic optimization

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits, which they refined to be 10 times less energy consumptive. The project has yielded several scientific articles, in publications including Nature Communications.

Streaming films and music, scrolling through social media, and using cloud-based storage services are everyday activities now.

Im Focus: New synthesis methods enhance 3D chemical space for drug discovery

After helping develop a new approach for organic synthesis -- carbon-hydrogen functionalization -- scientists at Emory University are now showing how this approach may apply to drug discovery. Nature Catalysis published their most recent work -- a streamlined process for making a three-dimensional scaffold of keen interest to the pharmaceutical industry.

"Our tools open up whole new chemical space for potential drug targets," says Huw Davies, Emory professor of organic chemistry and senior author of the paper.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Around 70 Laureates set to meet with young scientists from approx. 100 countries

12.02.2020 | Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Active droplets

21.02.2020 | Medical Engineering

Finding new clues to brain cancer treatment

21.02.2020 | Health and Medicine

Beyond the brim, Sombrero Galaxy's halo suggests turbulent past

21.02.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>