Navigation Links
More than 1: Long-reigning microbe controlling ocean nitrogen shares the throne

Marine scientists long believed that a microbe called Trichodesmium, a member of a group called the cyanobacteria, reigned over the ocean's nitrogen budget.

New research results reported on-line today in a paper in Science Express show that Trichodesmium may have to share its nitrogen-fixing throne: two others of its kind, small spherical species of nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria called UCYN-A and Crocosphaera watsonii, are also abundant in the oceans.

One of them, UCYN-A, is more widely distributed than Trichodesmium, and can live in cooler waters.

Different nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria, scientists have discovered, have varying preferences for water temperature and other environmental factors.

Pia Moisander and Jon Zehr of the University of California at Santa Cruz and their co-authors showed that actively nitrogen-fixing UCYN-A "can be found in great abundance at higher latitudes and deeper waters than Trichodesmium," says Moisander.

"Where Trichodesmium might be thought of as a warm-water microbe, UCYN-A likes it cooler," says Zehr. "This has far-reaching implications for the geographic distribution of the ocean's 'nitrogen fixers,' and for the process of nitrogen fixation itself."

According to co-author Joseph Montoya of the Georgia Institute of Technology, "we're now beginning to develop an appreciation for the biogeography of marine nitrogen fixation, and the broad range of oceanic habitats where nitrogen fixation makes a significant contribution to the overall nitrogen budget."

Most previous estimates of global nitrogen fixation were based on distributions of or factors that control the growth of Trichodesmium.

"The results of this study," says David Garrison, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Directorate for Geosciences, "show that these novel microbes are found in the world's oceans in a distribution analogous to that of non-nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria, which are widespread."

The research was also supported by NSF's Directorate for Biological Sciences and an NSF Science and Technology Center called C-MORE, the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education.

Trichodesmium, as well as UCYN-A and Crocosphaera watsonii, "fix" nitrogen in the seas, taking nitrogen gas from the air we breathe and converting it to chemical forms that other microorganisms can use to power their cellular machinery.

Nitrogen-fixing microorganisms are the key to the productivity of the oceans. Growth of microbes at the base of the food chain is dependent on nutrients like nitrogen, in the same way that agriculture on land depends on such nutrients.

Microorganisms that fix nitrogen play a central role, says Zehr, in the "vertical downward flux of organic matter to the deep ocean."

Life forms that are among our planet's smallest, he says, play a very large role. Through a series of steps in the nitrogen fixation process, they sequester carbon from the atmosphere, important in controlling Earth's climate.


Contact: Cheryl Dybas
National Science Foundation

Related biology news :

1. Genome analysis of marine microbe reveals a metabolic minimalist
2. Microbes produce fuels directly from biomass
3. Mystery solved: Marine microbe is source of rare nutrient
4. Hot microbes cause groundwater cleanup rethink
5. Marine microbes creating green waves in industry
6. Marine microbes creating green waves in industry
7. Microbes and their hosts -- exploring the complexity of symbiosis in DNA and cell biology
8. Methane-eating microbes can use iron and manganese oxides to breathe
9. Plant protein doorkeepers block invading microbes, study finds
10. Plant protein doorkeepers block invading microbes, study finds
11. Antibiotics take toll on beneficial microbes in gut
Post Your Comments:
(Date:4/26/2016)... and LONDON , ... Finacle, part of EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary ... Onegini today announced a partnership to integrate the ...      (Logo: ) ... provide their customers enhanced security to access and ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... April 15, 2016 Research ... Gait Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report to their offering.  ... ) , ,The global gait biometrics market is ... during the period 2016-2020. Gait analysis ... can be used to compute factors that are ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... 2016  Genomics firm Nabsys has completed a financial ... Bready , M.D., who returned to the company in ... leadership team, including Chief Technology Officer, John Oliver ... Nurnberg and Vice President of Software and Informatics, ... Dr. Bready served as CEO of Nabsys from ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... Mass. , June 23, 2016   ... development of novel compounds designed to target cancer ... napabucasin, has been granted Orphan Drug Designation from ... the treatment of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal junction ... stemness inhibitor designed to inhibit cancer stemness pathways ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Charm Sciences, Inc. is pleased ... received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This is another AOAC-RI approval of ... Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. “The Peel Plate methods perform ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Supplyframe, the Industry Network for electronics hardware ... . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design Lab’s mission is to bring together ... built and brought to market. , The Design Lab is Supplyframe’s physical representation ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016  Blueprint Bio, a company dedicated ... the medical community, has closed its Series A funding ... . "We have received a commitment from ... we need to meet our current goals," stated ... the runway to complete validation on the current projects ...
Breaking Biology Technology: