Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Back garden biodiversity

04.07.2002


The average back garden may contain twice as many species as have so far been identified on the whole planet, according to a study published today by British scientists.



But gardeners would need a microscope to observe the massive biodiversity, which exists almost entirely among micro-organisms in the soil.

Using new methods of analysis, Dr Tom Curtis, of the Department of Civil Engineering, Newcastle University, England, and colleagues, estimated that a tonne of soil could contain some four million separate species of bacteria.


This is surprisingly high, since only 1.75 million plant and animal species have so far been identified globally, although these tend to be the larger, observable species.

The new findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of the USA, may cause scientists to revise the lower estimates for global biodiversity, which had previously been put at anywhere between three million and 100 million species. It is generally accepted that it is impossible to identify all species, because micro-organisms are so many and so small.

Dr Curtis argues that studying the unseen biodiversity of bacteria is important because we cannot fully understand the way ecosystems work without this knowledge. For example, the way we manage soil affects the bacterial content, which in turn may affect productivity. This is not only important for farmers but for ecologists, such as those who manage rainforests.

Other applications of this knowledge may lead to better sewage treatment and pollution control, since bacteria are employed to break down human waste products and to destroy toxins as polluted water flows through wetlands.

Dr Curtis and colleagues based their findings on two key measurements of soil samples: the total number of bacteria present and the abundance of the commonest species. They devised a statistical technique, based on a branch of mathematics known as log-normal species abundance curves, to estimate the total number of species.

The method was then applied to other ecosystems, calculating that typical samples of ocean might contain 160 species per millilitre, and sewage systems contain surprisingly fewer, only 70 species per millilitre.
According to the calculations, the entire ocean may contain about two million species, while a tonne of soil could contain double that number.


1. "Estimating prokaryotic diversity and its limits" by Thomas P. Curtis, Jack W. Scannell, and William T. Sloan will be published by PNAS on their website www.pnas.org and can also be obtained from Newcastle University press office

Professor Tom Curtis | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nrel.colostate.edu/IBOY/biomonth/resource.html
http://www.nrel.colostate.edu/IBOY/whatandwhere.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New image of a cancer-related enzyme in action helps explain gene regulation
05.06.2020 | Penn State

nachricht Protecting the Neuronal Architecture
05.06.2020 | Universität Heidelberg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Restoring vision by gene therapy

Latest scientific findings give hope for people with incurable retinal degeneration

Humans rely dominantly on their eyesight. Losing vision means not being able to read, recognize faces or find objects. Macular degeneration is one of the major...

Im Focus: Small Protein, Big Impact

In meningococci, the RNA-binding protein ProQ plays a major role. Together with RNA molecules, it regulates processes that are important for pathogenic properties of the bacteria.

Meningococci are bacteria that can cause life-threatening meningitis and sepsis. These pathogens use a small protein with a large impact: The RNA-binding...

Im Focus: K-State study reveals asymmetry in spin directions of galaxies

Research also suggests the early universe could have been spinning

An analysis of more than 200,000 spiral galaxies has revealed unexpected links between spin directions of galaxies, and the structure formed by these links...

Im Focus: New measurement exacerbates old problem

Two prominent X-ray emission lines of highly charged iron have puzzled astrophysicists for decades: their measured and calculated brightness ratios always disagree. This hinders good determinations of plasma temperatures and densities. New, careful high-precision measurements, together with top-level calculations now exclude all hitherto proposed explanations for this discrepancy, and thus deepen the problem.

Hot astrophysical plasmas fill the intergalactic space, and brightly shine in stellar coronae, active galactic nuclei, and supernova remnants. They contain...

Im Focus: Biotechnology: Triggered by light, a novel way to switch on an enzyme

In living cells, enzymes drive biochemical metabolic processes enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very ability which allows them to be used as catalysts in biotechnology, for example to create chemical products such as pharmaceutics. Researchers now identified an enzyme that, when illuminated with blue light, becomes catalytically active and initiates a reaction that was previously unknown in enzymatics. The study was published in "Nature Communications".

Enzymes: they are the central drivers for biochemical metabolic processes in every living cell, enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

New image of a cancer-related enzyme in action helps explain gene regulation

05.06.2020 | Life Sciences

Silicon 'neurons' may add a new dimension to computer processors

05.06.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Protecting the Neuronal Architecture

05.06.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>