Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

In the spotlight: Tiny "heroes" in the depths of the Baltic and Black Sea

23.01.2012
Microbiologists from the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde (IOW) provide the first comprehensive description of a bacterium that, on the limits of the so-called "dead zones" in the Baltic and Black Sea, prevents the spread of poisonous hydrogen sulfide.

Oxygen is also a vital element under water. In the world's oceans, however, the development of oxygen-minimum zones is an increasing trend. Among the most prominent representatives of this phenomenon are the so-called "dead zones" in the Baltic and Black Sea, where regularly—and in the case of the Black Sea even permanently— an oxygen deficiency accompanied by the occurrence of toxic hydrogen sulfide (sulfide) has been determined at the sea floor.

Furthermore, in maritime regions of enormous importance to the global fishing industry, such as the nutrient-rich upwelling off the southwest coast of Africa, oxygen minimum zones also occur.

Due to the severe economic damage posed by these phenomena and their postulated—and to some extent already observed—increase, biogeochemists and microbiologists throughout the world have been working with physical oceanographers to investigate the causative mechanisms. That the spread of sulfides can be prevented by bacteria has been known for some time, but, it was unclear how this process exactly works, as little was known about the organisms involved.

The microbiologists of the IOW have succeeded, for the first time, in isolating a bacterium that is a major player in sulfide detoxification in oxygen minimum zones. They have also been able to cultivate it and thus to study its physiology. In addition, together with colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, they were able to produce a detailed genetic map of the bacterium.

"Sulfurimonas gotlandica" is the provisional designation of the representative of the so-called Epsilonproteobacteria that the Warnemünde scientists found in high abundance at the boundary layer between oxygen-containing (oxic) and oxygen-free (anoxic) water in the Gotland Basin in the central Baltic Sea. It possesses remarkable properties in that its choice of energy sources is not restricted to sulfide but is extremely flexible, allowing the bacterium to inhabit oxic as well as anoxic waters. Genetic analysis showed that "S. gotlandica" is equipped with environmental sensors and a high mobility, allowing it to actively seek out environments that energetically are the most favorable. Moreover, along with its ecologically very important ability of sulfide detoxification "S. gotlandica" possesses two other very important characteristics: it is capable of reducing nitrate to elemental nitrogen (so-called denitrification), thereby ridding eutrophic waters of excess nitrogen, and can use the resulting energy to fix CO2 in the dark in order to build up biomass.

With "S. gotlandica," the Warnemünde microbiologists now have a model organism that is both representative of a group of relatively uncommon bacteria and which allows important processes, such as sulfide detoxification, to be studied in the laboratory. This will facilitate research by the greater scientific community that is aimed at understanding marine "dead zones" and possibly even allow active influence of their development. The working group led by Klaus Jürgens has proven once again that the Baltic Sea, with its highly changeable environmental conditions and strong gradients, is an ideal "model ocean" for the investigation of processes occurring worldwide.

The work described was carried out with support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Federal Ministry for Education and Research. The results have been published in:

Grote, J., Schott, T. Bruckner, C.G., Glöckner, F.O., Jost, G., Teeling, H., Labrenz, M., Jürgens, K. (2012): Genome and physiology of a model for responsible Epsilonproteobacterium sulfide detoxification in marine oxygen depletion zones. PNAS 109: 506-510.

For further information, contact:
Prof. Dr. Klaus Jürgens, 0381 / 5197 250, Department Biological Oceanography, IOW
Dr. Barbara Hentzsch, 0381 / 5197 102, Public Relations, IOW

The IOW is a member of the Leibniz Association, which currently includes 87 research institutes and a scientific infrastructure for research. The Leibniz Institutes' fields range from the natural sciences, engineering and environmental sciences, business, social sciences and space sciences to the humanities. Federal and state governments together support the Institute. In total, the Leibniz Institute has 16 800 employees, of which approximately are 7,800 scientists, and of those 3300 young scientists. The total budget of the Institute is more than 1.4 billion Euros. Third-party funds amount to approximately € 330 million per year.(www.leibniz-gemeinschaft.de)

Dr. Barbara Hentzsch | idw
Further information:
http://www.leibniz-gemeinschaft.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nanocages in the lab and in the computer: how DNA-based dendrimers transport nanoparticles
19.10.2018 | University of Vienna

nachricht Less animal experiments on the horizon: Multi-organ chip awarded
19.10.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Werkstoff- und Strahltechnik IWS

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Goodbye, silicon? On the way to new electronic materials with metal-organic networks

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz (Germany) together with scientists from Dresden, Leipzig, Sofia (Bulgaria) and Madrid (Spain) have now developed and characterized a novel, metal-organic material which displays electrical properties mimicking those of highly crystalline silicon. The material which can easily be fabricated at room temperature could serve as a replacement for expensive conventional inorganic materials used in optoelectronics.

Silicon, a so called semiconductor, is currently widely employed for the development of components such as solar cells, LEDs or computer chips. High purity...

Im Focus: Storage & Transport of highly volatile Gases made safer & cheaper by the use of “Kinetic Trapping"

Augsburg chemists present a new technology for compressing, storing and transporting highly volatile gases in porous frameworks/New prospects for gas-powered vehicles

Storage of highly volatile gases has always been a major technological challenge, not least for use in the automotive sector, for, for example, methane or...

Im Focus: Disrupting crystalline order to restore superfluidity

When we put water in a freezer, water molecules crystallize and form ice. This change from one phase of matter to another is called a phase transition. While this transition, and countless others that occur in nature, typically takes place at the same fixed conditions, such as the freezing point, one can ask how it can be influenced in a controlled way.

We are all familiar with such control of the freezing transition, as it is an essential ingredient in the art of making a sorbet or a slushy. To make a cold...

Im Focus: Micro energy harvesters for the Internet of Things

Fraunhofer IWS Dresden scientists print electronic layers with polymer ink

Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed...

Im Focus: Dynamik einzelner Proteine

Neue Messmethode erlaubt es Forschenden, die Bewegung von Molekülen lange und genau zu verfolgen

Das Zusammenspiel aus Struktur und Dynamik bestimmt die Funktion von Proteinen, den molekularen Werkzeugen der Zelle. Durch Fortschritte in der...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Conference to pave the way for new therapies

17.10.2018 | Event News

Berlin5GWeek: Private industrial networks and temporary 5G connectivity islands

16.10.2018 | Event News

5th International Conference on Cellular Materials (CellMAT), Scientific Programme online

02.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nanocages in the lab and in the computer: how DNA-based dendrimers transport nanoparticles

19.10.2018 | Life Sciences

Thin films from Braunschweig on the way to Mercury

19.10.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

App-App-Hooray! - Innovative Kits for AR Applications

19.10.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>