Navigation Links
Microbes capture, store, and release nitrogen to feed reef-building coral
Date:5/13/2013

Microscopic algae that live within reef-forming corals scoop up available nitrogen, store the excess in crystal form, and slowly feed it to the coral as needed, according to a study published in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. Scientists have known for years that these symbiotic microorganisms serve up nitrogen to their coral hosts, but this new study sheds light on the dynamics of the process and reveals that the algae have the ability to store excess nitrogen, a capability that could help corals cope in their chronically low-nitrogen environment.

"It was a great surprise to find the nitrogen-rich crystals inside the algae," says corresponding author Anders Meibom of the cole Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne, Switzerland. "It all makes perfect sense now. The algae suck up the ammonium and nitrate like a sponge when the concentration of these molecules increases, then store this nitrogen as uric acid crystals for later use."

Like all reef-forming corals, the species they studied, Pocillopora damicornis, is actually a symbiosis of two different organisms: the coral provides protection to a species of photosynthetic algae called dinoflagellates, which, in turn, provide sugars and nitrogen to the coral host. The symbiosis allows the coral to thrive in clear, tropical waters that are naturally nutrient-poor. In many places, however, coral reefs are suffering from an excess of nutrients - pollution from sewage and fertilizers that impacts the symbiotic relationship and the health of coral in unknown ways.

To better understand these exchanges of materials and to determine how an excess of nutrients might affect the balance, the researchers exposed pieces of coral to varying concentrations of isotopically-labeled nitrogen-rich compounds. Using the facilities at the Aquarium Tropicale Porte Dore in Paris, France, the scientists applied a relatively new analytic technique called nano-scale secondary ion mass-spectrometry (NanoSIMS) to follow the path of the nitrogen. NanoSIMS enabled them to visualize and quantify the uptake, movement, and accumulation of this labeled nitrogen within the coral.

When supplied with nitrogen in the form of ammonium, nitrate or aspartic acid the dinoflagellates responded by rapidly storing the nitrogen as crystals of uric acid within its cells. But the dinoflagellates don't hang onto the nitrogen for long. Starting at about six hours after exposure, the microbes begin translocating nitrogen-rich compounds to the coral host, where the nitrogen is used in specific cellular compartments all over the surface layers of the coral.

This storage and release process helps explain how these corals get through the ups and downs of nitrogen concentrations, says Meibom. "This gives the coral-algae symbiosis a very efficient way to deal with strong fluctuations in nitrogen availability," writes Meibom. "When the nitrogen availability suddenly becomes high, the algae can take-up large amounts of nitrogen on a timescale of a few hours, store it into crystals inside the algae cells and then release this stored nitrogen for metabolic processes and growth when the nitrogen levels become normal again."

To follow up on this work, Meibom says he and his colleagues are now studying how carbon-based nutrients are taken up and distributed in the same coral-algae symbiosis.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jim Sliwa
jsliwa@asmusa.org
202-942-9297
American Society for Microbiology
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. The microbes you inhale on the New York City subway
2. Measuring microbes makes wetland health monitoring more affordable, says MU researcher
3. Blood vessels sniff gut microbes to regulate blood pressure
4. The lifetime journeys of manure-based microbes
5. Microbes team up to boost plants stress tolerance
6. Gut microbes could determine the severity of melamine-induced kidney disease
7. Lack of energy an enemy to antibiotic-resistant microbes
8. FASEB SRC announces conference: Gastrointestinal Tract XV: Epithelia, Microbes, Inflammation & Cancer
9. Microbiologists eavesdrop on the hidden lives of microbes
10. They hunt, they kill, they cheat: Single-celled algae shed light on social lives of microbes
11. Even in same vineyard, different microbes may create variations in wine grapes
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/23/2017)... N.Y. and ITHACA, N.Y. ... ) and Cornell University, a leader in dairy research, ... with bioinformatics designed to help reduce the chances that ... With the onset of this dairy project, Cornell University ... Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain, a food ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... 2017  Hunova, the first robotic gym for the rehabilitation and functional ... in Genoa, Italy . The first 30 robots will ... USA . The technology was developed and patented at ... IIT spin-off Movendo Technology thanks to a 10 million euro investment from ... click: ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... 2017   Bridge Patient Portal , an ... MD EMR Systems , an electronic medical record ... have established a partnership to build an interface ... GE Centricity™ products, including Centricity Practice Solution (CPS), ... These new integrations will allow healthcare delivery networks ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:9/19/2017)... ... September 19, 2017 , ... ... announced a partnership with Cytena GmbH to launch the CloneSelect™ Single-Cell Printer™ in ... analysis to isolate single cells and provide visual documentation of monoclonality for use ...
(Date:9/18/2017)... ... September 18, 2017 , ... Transportable biomass conversion ... and torrefied wood is the topic of a September 27 webinar ... economic viability of transportable biomass conversion facilities for producing biochar, briquettes, and torrefied ...
(Date:9/18/2017)... ... September 18, 2017 , ... ... business process optimization firm for the life sciences and healthcare industries, announces ... 2017 conference. , What: Digital Transformation in Medical Device – The Journey to ...
(Date:9/14/2017)... ... September 14, 2017 , ... ... flexible scientist program (FSP)-- a flexible business approach similar to a full-time ... SSCI’s extensive project-based analytical and solid-state chemistry services and expertise with flexible ...
Breaking Biology Technology: