Navigation Links
Newly discovered bacterial partnership changes ocean chemistry
Date:8/9/2013

In a discovery that further demonstrates just how unexpected and unusual nature can be, scientists have found two strains of bacteria whose symbiotic relationship is unlike anything seen before.

Long, thin, hairlike Thioploca (meaning "sulfur braids" in Spanish) trichomes form chains down into marine sediment, which tiny anammox cells ride down like an elevator. At the bottom, the anammox cells consume the waste products of the Thioploca: nitrite and ammonium, or "fixed" nitrogen.

Nitrogen is a crucial building block of life, a prerequisite for photosynthesis. While nitrogen is present in abundance in Earth atmosphere, to be useful for most of living organisms, the nonreactive atmospheric nitrogen that diffuses into the ocean from the air must be converted into the biologically available "fixed" forms: ammonium, nitrate and nitrite by specialized organisms called nitrogen fixers. Other organisms use up this fixed nitrogen and convert it back to di-nitrogen gas.

Living together in the mud beneath areas of high plant productivity, Thioploca and anammox intensify this part of the nitrogen cycle.

Gliding down through the mud, Thioploca chains bring down nitrate a highly desirable resource in harsh environment of oxygen-free sediments. As Thioploca encounters sulfide (which is a roadblock for most other bacteria) formed from the reaction of organic matter from above and sea water sulfate, it helps react nitrate with sulfide, producing nitrite and ammonium, which the anammox consumes and churns out di-nitrogen gas.

The anammox cells ride on Thioploca, living off its waste, and so both microbes thrive where others perish. Overall, however, they lock up an important resource for life in the ocean, making it unusable by the organisms at the base of the foodchain that rely on photosynthesis to survive.

"The symbiotic relationship we discovered is an incredibly elegant chemical tandem between two chemolithotrophs organisms which derive their metabolic energy purely from inorganic chemistry. We first predicted the symbiosis based on realization that Thioploca's waste (nitrite and ammonium) are 'bread and butter' for anammox. The prediction was confirmed by our team, proving that the symbiotic pair builds a very efficient natural "waste-treatment plant" -- destroying substantial quantities of fixed nitrogen while linking sulfur and nitrogen cycles in oxygen-free sediments," said Maria Prokopenko, lead author of a paper on the research that will appear in Nature on August 8.

Prokopenko is currently a visiting scholar at Pomona College, but completed the research while she was a research assistant professor at USC, working closely with William Berelson, chair of the Earth Sciences Department at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Prokopenko and Berelson collaborated with researchers from the University of California, Davis; the University of Southern Denmark; Pomona College; the University of Connecticut; Princeton, and the University of Cincinnati.

The symbiosis between Thioploca and Anammox is not one creating widespread change throughout the ocean, but rather creates localized zones where fixed nitrogen is depleted faster than most expected.

Most of the samples collected were found off the coast of Baja California.

"As important as nitrogen is to life on this planet, it is amazing that we can discover new pathways and chemical reactions and biological partnerships involving this compound," Berelson said.

Prokopenko, Berelson and others are presently studying nitrogen cycling in waters off Chile and Peru and are also investigating the history of nitrate preserved in ancient rocks.


'/>"/>

Contact: Robert Perkins
perkinsr@usc.edu
213-740-9226
University of Southern California
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. ACLS Online Renewal Course from United Medical Education Now Features Newly-Updated Course Materials
2. Newly identified bone marrow stem cells reveal markers for ALS
3. Newly developed medium may be useful for human health, biofuel production, more
4. A newly discovered hormone makes ovaries grow
5. Newly described type of immune cell and T cells share similar path to maturity
6. FRAX newly released as version 3.8 -- Over 5 million online calculations since June 2011
7. Marriage can threaten health: Study finds satisfied newlyweds more likely to gain weight
8. Soils in newly forested areas store substantial carbon that could help offset climate change
9. Logging debris gives newly planted Douglas-fir forests a leg-up
10. Newly identified natural protein blocks HIV, other deadly viruses
11. Newly discovered plant structure may lead to improved biofuel processing
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/2/2017)... March 2, 2017 Australian stem cell and ... CYP), has signed an agreement with the Monash Lung ... Biomedicine Discovery Institute and Department of Pharmacology at Monash ... further preclinical study to support the use of Cymerus™ ... Asthma is a chronic, long term ...
(Date:2/27/2017)... 2017   Strategic Cyber Ventures , the industry,s ... a $3.5 million investment in  Polarity , the first ... is DC based and is led by cybersecurity veterans ... Ron Gula , also a longtime cybersecurity veteran ... this series A round of funding. This new funding ...
(Date:2/21/2017)... Der weltweite Biobanking-Sektor wird bis ... Gespräch mit mehr als 50 Vertretern aus verschiedenen Branchen wurde ... um diese Prognose zu realisieren. ... Zu den Schwierigkeiten ... Mittel für die Biobank, die Implementierung Zeit sparender Technologien, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/23/2017)... 23, 2017 NetworkNewsWire Editorial Coverage  ... Cancer remains ... strain on health care systems, in terms of costs and ... too does the development of innovative and efficient therapies that ... the many types of cancer treatments, a growing number of ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... ... March 23, 2017 , ... ... today announced the hire of Dr. Sigmund “Sig” Floyd as Vice President ? ... partnerships and joint development activities. , “Dr. Floyd’s career has spanned 30 years ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... Calif. , March 22, 2017  UBM ... proud to announce their extended partnership and the ... be headlined by the 21 st Annual ... Boston, taking place May 3-4, 2017. ... Medical Technology Association (ADVAMED) President and CEO, ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... , March 22, 2017 The ... states a research report by Transparency Market Research (TMR). ... Amgen Inc., and AbbVie Inc., accounted for a share ... prominent players in this market are focusing aggressively on ... portfolio, which is likely to lead to market consolidation ...
Breaking Biology Technology: