Navigation Links
Life on the wind: Study reveals how microbes travel the Earth
Date:8/17/2011

Scientists from the UK and Switzerland have investigated the remarkable distance that microorganisms may be able to blow between continents, raising questions about their potential to colonise new lands and also potentially to spread diseases.

The researchers from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) and the Ecole Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne (EPFL) the University of Neuchtel published their results in the Journal of Biogeography this month. They used large computer models of the Earth's atmosphere to study how widely microbes could be dispersed.

LJMU's Dr Dave Wilkinson led the team along with Symeon Koumoutsaris, from the International Space Science Institute in Bern, who modified computer models which were designed for studying the dispersal of dust particles. They looked at what would happen if they released virtual microbes from both the southern tip of South America and also from Mexico. Once airborne, microbes of 0.02mm in diameter and below can easily travel thousands of kilometres.

Dr Dave Wilkinson, LJMU School of Natural Science and Psychology, explained:

"Microbes less than 0.009 mm across went as far as Australia! These sizes would include microbes such as bacteria and many amoebae and also some fungal spores. We found that for smaller microbes, once airborne, dispersal is remarkably successful over a 1-year period. The most striking results are the extensive within-hemisphere distribution of small virtual microbes and the lack of dispersal between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres during the year-long time-scale of our simulations.

What our models show is that only the smallest microbes travel easily between continents. The larger ones (i.e. Larger than 20m but still 500 times smaller than the 1mm threshold previously believed to separate the "cosmopolitan organisms" from those with potential biogeographies) cannot easily travel between continents on the time span of a single year. This is an important result as it very significantly increases the potential for microbial diversity."

Most microbes carried by wind are likely to be harmless, but outbreaks of certain disease such as meningitis in the Sahel region of Africa and foot and mouth disease have been linked to airborne microbes in the past.

"We stress that our model looks at only one aspect of microbial dispersal namely airborne transport to a new site. Once a microbe arrives, it clearly needs to reproduce, including potentially competing with microbes already at that location," Dr Wilkinson concluded. "Given the ease with which the smaller microbes disperse in our model it is possible that this (rather than dispersal itself) may be the rate-limiting step in many cases of microbial range expansion and this topic should form the topic for future research in this area."


'/>"/>

Contact: Clare Doran
C.N.Doran@ljmu.ac.uk
01-512-313-369
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Gone with the wind: Far-flung pine pollen still potent miles from the tree
2. Long-term study shows effect of climate change on animal diversity
3. £2 million study to reveal workings of dementia genes
4. New study looks to define evangelicals and how they affect polling
5. CU-Boulder study suggests air quality regulations miss key pollutants
6. Researchers study acoustic communication in deep-sea fish
7. Study reveals homeowner perceptions in fire-prone areas
8. Researchers study how pistachios may improve heart health
9. Study: urban black bears live fast, die young
10. New study indicates link between weight gains during pregnancy and dieting history
11. Study reveals specific gene in adolescent men with delinquent peers
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/28/2016)... First quarter 2016:   , ... the first quarter of 2015 The gross margin was ... 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% (-13) Earnings ... flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , ... SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin for 2016 is ...
(Date:4/19/2016)... 2016 The new GEZE SecuLogic ... web-based "all-in-one" system solution for all door components. It ... the door interface with integration authorization management system, and ... The minimal dimensions of the access control and the ... installations offer considerable freedom of design with regard to ...
(Date:4/14/2016)... BioCatch ™, the global ... the appointment of Eyal Goldwerger as CEO. ... Goldwerger,s leadership appointment comes at a time of significant ... of its platform at several of the world,s largest ... unique cognitive and physiological factors, is a winner of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/22/2016)... ... June 22, 2016 , ... Quantitative ... business incubator and current participant in the Phase 1 Ventures program, is leveraging ... , Quantitative Radiology Solutions helps physicians make better treatment decisions by quantifying ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 21, 2016 , ... New light-based ... cutting into the tissue — promise to enable both compact, wearable devices for point-of-care ... even deeper under the skin. , Recent work and visionary future directions are detailed ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... SAN DIEGO , June 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... that has developed a testing platform designed specifically ... the formation of their scientific advisory board (SAB). ... of directors, the SAB is chartered to advise ... infectious disease assay platform. Led by Dr. ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... June 22, 2016 On Tuesday, June ... 4,843.76, up 0.14%; the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.14% ... 2,088.90, up 0.27%. The gains were broad based as five ... has initiated coverage on the following equities: Minerva Neurosciences Inc. ... PTLA ), Trevena Inc. (NASDAQ: TRVN ), ...
Breaking Biology Technology: