Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Stay-At-Home Microbes: Micro-Organisms More Complicated Than We Thought

25.07.2003


The archaeon Sulfolobus can be found near geysers like this one in Yellowstone


Dennis Grogan isolates cultures in the lab


A study of microbes that thrive in hot, acidic conditions has overturned a long-held view that species of micro-organisms do not differ by geographic location like other forms of life. The research by the University of Cincinnati and the University of California-Berkeley has just been published online by the journal Science.

When it comes to plant life and animal life, a species usually shows genetic differences in different parts of the world. For the tiny form of life known as micro-organisms, the opposite has been considered to be true – they don’t tend to differ by geographic location. That long-held view has been convincingly overturned in a study by University of Cincinnati and University of California, Berkeley, researchers focusing on a form of life that flourishes in extremely hot conditions.

Co-authors Dennis Grogan of the University of Cincinnati and Rachael J. Whitaker and John W. Taylor of Berkeley provide the most comprehensive proof to date that at least one species of micro-organism in different parts of the world does have genetic differences, if you look close enough. Whitaker, the principal author, focused on the archaeon Sulfolobus, found in acidic hot springs and flourishing at temperatures from 140-180 degrees Fahrenheit. She drew the vast majority of samples for her analysis from archives developed and stored at the University of Cincinnati Department of Biological Sciences under the leadership of Grogan. Whitaker analyzed the DNA of some 78 cultures from the United States, Eastern Russia and Iceland.



Of those samples, more than 54 came from the University of Cincinnati collection that Grogan has built with the help of National Science Foundation funding as well as the help of undergraduate and graduate students. Micro-organisms From Extreme Environments, a summer course taught by Grogan, involves UC students in laboratory work that “isolates” the archaea samples from hot springs samples and preserves the live cultures in vials stored in freezers. Culturing archaea can be difficult because of the extreme conditions they enjoy.

It was not until the 1970s that Archaea were discovered and classified as one of three domains of life. The other two are bacteria and eukaryota (plants, animals, fungi and protists).

Many archaea survive in “extreme” environments that are “normal” for them, but for other life forms would be lethal or at least injurious. Sulfolobus, for example, flourishes in acidic hot springs – including those found bubbling at Yellowstone. Also known as “extremophiles,” these microscopic critters not only thrive in temperatures ranging from 65 to 85 degrees Celsius, but also love acidic conditions with a pH ranging from 2 to 4. The human body, on the other hand, is typically at 98.5 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) and has a pH of 7.

Because archaea were not even discovered until about 25 years ago, says Grogan, they remain a relatively unknown domain of life. Recently, researchers have hinted that perhaps species of micro-organisms can differ by geographic location, but this study provides the most comprehensive evidence to date of that idea, he adds. The implications for understanding microbial life are far reaching.

“It is important to realize that disease-causing bacteria represent only a tiny fraction of a bewildering diversity of micro-organisms that we can grow in the laboratory. These cultured species, in turn, represent a tiny fraction of the species present in nature that are shaping our environment in ways we don’t fully understand. Now microbiologists have yet another level of complexity to consider, namely that differences within a microbial species can arise in different locations,” Grogan says. “This process may be increasing the diversity of microbial life in many environments.”

Because the hot springs where archaea live can be so dangerous, visitors to places such as Yellowstone are warned to stay on designated walkways. Researchers, including Grogan, must collect samples in areas where tourists won’t see them, using special tools for safety. Grogan typically goes into the field to collect samples in June.

The sampling and cultivation work in this study was assisted by the following University of Cincinnati scholars: Professor of Biological Sciences Brian Kinkle, graduate student Greg D. Bell and undergraduate student Josh E. Hansen.

Marianne Kunnen-Jones | University of Cincinnati
Further information:
http://www.uc.edu/info-services/archaea.htm
http://www.biology.uc.edu

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

Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas

19.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

New creepy, crawly search and rescue robot developed at Ben-Gurion U

19.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

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

19.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>