Navigation Links
Hot springs microbes hold key to dating sedimentary rocks, researchers say
Date:1/22/2008

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Scientists studying microbial communities and the growth of sedimentary rock at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park have made a surprising discovery about the geological record of life and the environment.

Their discovery could affect how certain sequences of sedimentary rock are dated, and how scientists might search for evidence of life on other planets.

We found microbes change the rate at which calcium carbonate precipitates, and that rate controls the chemistry and shape of calcium carbonate crystals, said Bruce Fouke, a professor of geology and of molecular and cellular biology at the University of Illinois.

In fact, the precipitation rate can more than double when microbes are present, Fouke and his colleagues report in a paper accepted for publication in the Geological Society of America Bulletin.

The researchers findings imply changes in calcium carbonate mineralization rates in the rock record may have resulted from changes in local microbial biomass concentrations throughout geologic history.

A form of sedimentary rock, calcium carbonate is the most abundant mineral precipitated on the surface of Earth, and a great recorder of life.

As calcium carbonate is deposited, it leaves a chemical fingerprint of the animals and environment, the plants and bacteria that were there, said Fouke, who also is affiliated with the universitys Institute for Genomic Biology.

The extent to which microorganisms influence calcium carbonate precipitation has been one of the most controversial issues in the field of carbonate sedimentology and geochemistry. Separating biologically precipitated calcium carbonate from non-biologically precipitated calcium carbonate is difficult.

Foukes research team has spent 10 years quantifying the physical, chemical and biological aspects of the hot springs environment. The last step in deciphering the calcium carbonate record was performing an elaborate field experiment, which drew water from a hot springs vent and compared deposition rates with and without microbes being present.

Angel Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park is an ideal, natural laboratory because of the high precipitation rates and the abundance of microbes, Fouke said. Calcium carbonate grows so fast millimeters per day we can examine the interaction between microorganisms and the calcium-carbonate precipitation process.

The researchers found that the rate of precipitation drops drastically sometimes by more than half when microbes are not present.

So one of the fingerprints of calcium carbonate deposition that will tell us for sure if there were microbes present at the time it formed is the rate at which it formed, Fouke said. And, within the environmental and ecological context of the rock being studied, we can now use chemistry to fingerprint the precipitation rate.

In a second paper, to appear in the Journal of Sedimentary Research, Fouke and colleagues show how the calcium carbonate record in a springs primary flow path can be used to reconstruct the pH, temperature and flux of ancient hot springs environments. The researchers also show how patterns in calcium carbonate crystallization can be used to differentiate signatures of life from those caused by environmental change.

This means we can go into the rock record, on Earth or other planets, and determine if calcium carbonate deposits were associated with microbial life, Fouke said.


'/>"/>

Contact: James E. Kloeppel
kloeppel@uiuc.edu
217-244-1073
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Hellish hot springs yield greenhouse gas-eating bug
2. Hungry microbes share out the carbon in the roots of plants
3. Microbes churn out hydrogen at record rate
4. Cosmopolitan microbes -- hitchhikers on Darwins dust
5. Scientists melt million-year-old ice in search of ancient microbes
6. Methane from microbes: a fuel for the future
7. Nitrous oxide from ocean microbes
8. Paired microbes eliminate methane using sulfur pathway
9. Researchers identify proteins involved in new neurodegenerative syndrome
10. Texas researchers and educators head for Antarctica
11. MGH researchers describe new way to identify, evolve novel enzymes
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/2/2016)... Feb. 2, 2016 This BCC Research ... market by reviewing the recent advances in high ... drive the field forward. Includes forecast through 2019. ... the challenges and opportunities that exist in the ... solution developers, as well as IT and bioinformatics ...
(Date:2/1/2016)... , February 1, 2016 ... advancements to drive global touchfree intuitive gesture control market ... --> Rising sales of consumer electronics coupled with ... control market size through 2020 ... electronics coupled with new technological advancements to drive global ...
(Date:1/25/2016)...   Unisys Corporation (NYSE: UIS ) today announced ... International Airport, New York City , to help ... to enter the United States using passports ... pilot testing of the system at Dulles last year. The ... during January 2016. --> pilot testing of the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... Feb. 11, 2016  Dovetail Genomics™ LLC today announced ... program for a planned metagenomic genome assembly service. ... metagenomic genome assembly method in a talk on Friday, ... & Technology conference in Orlando, Fla. ... complex datasets is difficult. Using its proprietary ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... MIAMI (PRWEB) , ... February 11, 2016 , ... ... in regenerative medicine, has announced a new agreement with Bankok,Thailand-based Global Stem Cells ... researchers and phsyicians in 15 Latin American countries, including Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... , Feb. 10, 2016  The Maryland House of ... has announced that University of Maryland School of Medicine ... and University of Maryland Medical System President and CEO ... "Speaker,s Medallion," the highest honor given to the public ... Dean Reece and Mr. Chrencik for ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... (NYSE MKT: ISR), a medical technology company and innovator ... treatment of prostate, brain, lung, head and neck and ... second quarter and six months of fiscal 2016, which ... --> Revenue was $1.19 million for ... 31, 2015, a 12% increase compared to $1.07 million ...
Breaking Biology Technology: