Navigation Links
New discovery: Microbes create dripstones
Date:8/18/2014

According to new research humble, microscopic organisms can create dripstones in caves. This illustrates how biological life can influence the formation of Earth's geology - and the same may be happening right now on other planets in space.

According to traditional textbooks dripstones are created by geological or geochemical processes with no influence from living organisms. But now scientists report that formation of dripstones can be a lot more complex than that: Sometimes microbes are responsible for the formation of these geological features.

The researchers from Denmark, Sweden and Spain have investigated dripstone formation in a Swedish cave and conclude that microbes play an active part in their formation.

"If microbes can be responsible for dripstone formation on Earth, the same thing might be happening other places in space", explains researcher Magnus Ivarsson from Nordic Center for Earth Evolution (NordCEE) at University of Southern Denmark.

The planet Mars is known to be home for a number of caves similar to caves with dripstones created from microbes on Earth. If there are dripstones in these caves, they might have been formed by microbes and thus they are an indication that biological organisms have once lived on Mars.

"If I were a microbe I would definitely live in a cave on Mars", says Magnus Ivarsson.

He and his colleagues have reported their findings in "International Journal of Speleology". The colleagues are Therese Sallstedt from NordCEE, University of Southern Denmark, Johannes Lundberg from Swedish Museum of Natural History, Rabbe Sjberg, retired from Ume University and Juan Ramon Vidal Romani from University of Corua in Spain.

The researchers examined dripstones in the Tjuv-Antes cave in Northern Sweden. The cave is 30 meters long and it is home for various kinds of dripstones. When they examined the dripstones the researchers saw distinct layers, mirroring how the dripstones have grown over time and left seasonal layers. Dark layers consist of fossilized microbes and light layers consist of calcite.

The researchers conclude that the microbes were active in the formation of the dripstones.

"Microbes actively contributed to the formation of the dripstones. They didn't just live on the surface of them", says Magnus Ivarsson.

Microbes were more active in spring and summer

The layers indicate that the microbes were most active in spring and summer when rain dripped down through the soil and into the cave.

"These drops of water brought nutrients with them, which was consumed by the microbes. As the microbes metabolized they excreted calcium which precipitated and in time helped form the dripstones", says Magnus Ivarsson.

"Without this microbial activity dripstones would be smaller or maybe even totally absent", he adds.

The studying of microbes in caves is not only important for understanding the powers of life on Earth and on other planets. It also has importance for human health:

"Everyday millions of people go into underground caves; metros, train stations, etc. These artificially constructed caves offer some of the same living conditions for microbes as naturally created caves. Health authorities are therefore interested in monitoring and understanding what kind of pathogenic microorganisms can live and grow on the walls of for example metro-stations", explains Magnus Ivarsson.

Together with Swedish colleagues Magnus Ivarsson is involved in monitoring microbial growth in metro-stations in Stockholm.


'/>"/>

Contact: Birgitte Svennevig
birs@sdu.dk
University of Southern Denmark
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. A whale of a discovery: New sensory organ found in rorqual whales
2. Surprising discovery: The skin communicates with the liver
3. New discovery: Molecule links asthma and cancer and could aid in developing new treatments
4. Killer silk: Making silk fibers that kill anthrax and other microbes in minutes
5. Breast-fed babies gut microbes contribute to healthy immune systems
6. Honoring the fundamental role of microbes in the natural history of our planet
7. CU-Boulder-led team finds microbes in extreme environment on South American volcanoes
8. AGU: Unique microbes found in extreme environment
9. Waves of Berkeley Lab responders deploy omics to track Deepwater Horizon cleanup microbes
10. Gut microbes battle a common set of viruses shared by global populations
11. MBL scientists to explore hidden realm of microbes, viruses beneath the ocean floor
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
New discovery: Microbes create dripstones
(Date:2/27/2017)... Feb. 27, 2017   Strategic Cyber Ventures , ... has led a $3.5 million investment in  Polarity , ... Cyber Ventures is DC based and is led by ... Thomas . Ron Gula , also a longtime ... participated in this series A round of funding. This ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... Feb. 24, 2017  EyeLock LLC, a leader of iris-based ... iris biometric solution on the latest Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ ... Mobile World Congress 2017 (February 27 – ... Hall 3, Stand 3E10. The ... security platform—a combination of hardware, software and ...
(Date:2/21/2017)... ARMONK, N.Y. and PORTLAND, Ore. ... IBM ) and the Avamere Family of Companies (Avamere ... Care) today announced a six-month research study that will ... caregivers improve eldercare at senior living and health centers. ... facilities, Avamere hopes to gain insights into physical and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/28/2017)... ... February 28, 2017 , ... RoviSys, a ... today that it has joined the Cisco® Digital Solutions Integrator Program. As a ... hardware and software that addresses Industrial IT and Business IT in manufacturing environments. ...
(Date:2/28/2017)... ... , ... Over 8,000 recognized rare diseases afflict an estimated 350 million people ... March 7, DrugDev will gather international experts to share challenges and provide insight and ... Overcoming the Challenges of Rare Disease Clinical Trials, Date: March 7, 2017, Time: 10:00-11:00 ...
(Date:2/28/2017)... ... February 28, 2017 , ... GigaGen Inc ... millions-diverse immune repertoires, today announced a strategic partnership with Trianni, Inc. , ... express human antibodies. The partnership will use GigaGen technology to discover immuno-oncology antibody ...
(Date:2/28/2017)... and PHILADELPHIA , Feb. 28, 2017 ... held biopharmaceutical company focusing on debilitating diseases including rare ... announced that the company joins with the National Organization ... advocacy and support around the world in commemorating Rare ... unique challenges and needs of the millions of patients ...
Breaking Biology Technology: