Navigation Links
Oceanographers develop method for measuring the pace of life in deep sediments
Date:3/27/2012

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. -- Life deep in the seabed proceeds very slowly. But the slow-growing bacteria living many meters beneath the seafloor play an important role in the global storage of organic carbon and have a long-term effect on climate. A team of scientists from Aarhus University (Denmark) and the University of Rhode Island have developed a new method for measuring this slow life deep down in the seabed.

Their findings were published last week in the journal Nature.

According to URI Oceanography Professor Arthur Spivack, the relative abundance of amino acids that are mirror images of each other in subseafloor sediment reflects the activity of microorganisms. The research team used this signature to calculate how active microorganisms are in the deepest layers of the seabed.

The deep seafloor samples were collected during an international drilling program led by the URI and Danish researchers. Advanced laboratory techniques were used to obtain the data. The researchers found that the metabolism of organic carbon takes place at a much slower rate in the deep seabed compared with all other known ecosystems.

"This study goes far beyond previous studies by showing that microbes in subseafloor sediment replace their biomass thousands of times more slowly than microbes in the surface world," said URI Oceanography Professor Steven D'Hondt. The mean generation time of bacterial cells in the sediment is correspondingly long 1,000 to 3,000 years. In comparison, the bacteria that have previously been studied in the laboratory or in nature typically reproduce in a number of hours.

"Seventy percent of our planet is covered by ocean, which means that seventy percent of the planet is made up of seabed consisting of sediment that stores old organic matter," said Aarhus University Associate Professor Bente Lomstein. "In some places the deposits are more than one hundred meters thick. Several percent of the total living biomass on Earth is actually found in the mud in the seabed. The bacteria in the seabed convert the carbon of organic matter to CO2, and if we add it all up, the metabolism down there plays a crucial role in the global carbon cycle, even if it happens very slowly."

One reason for the slow pace of life in the seabed is the challenging environment the bacteria lives in.

"Extremely high pressure, total darkness and very little nutrition those are the conditions under which microorganisms live in the seabed," added Alice Thoft Langerhuus, another Aarhus University researcher. "At the bottom of the deep ocean, the pressure reaches several hundred atmospheres."

The research team has also showed how many of the bacteria survive under such extreme conditions. The scientists succeeded for the first time in demonstrating that there are just as many dormant cells as there are active ones. The dormant bacteria have formed endospores, which have a solid shell to protect themselves against the harsh environment.

The researchers said that their new method for calculating the pace of life in the seabed can also be used to measure the pace of life in other ancient environments with extremely low biological activity, like permafrost soils.


'/>"/>
Contact: Todd McLeish
tmcleish@uri.edu
401-874-7892
University of Rhode Island
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Oceanographers call for more ocean observing in Antarctica
2. Stantum Offering Demo, Evaluation & Development Board Based on Its Patented Resistive Multi-Touch Technology
3. Researchers develop new self-training gene prediction program for fungi
4. Childrens National researchers develop novel anti-tumor vaccine
5. National Science Foundation grants Clemson professors award to develop nanoprobes
6. NIAID announces 25 new awards to develop radiation countermeasures
7. Human Microbiome Project awards funds for technology development, data analysis and ethical research
8. Digital zebrafish embryo provides the first complete developmental blueprint of a vertebrate
9. Scientists trace molecular origin of proportional development
10. Repair in the developing heart
11. European researchers harness unique properties of boron to develop new drugs and diagnostics
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/11/2017)... NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. , Jan. 11, 2017  Michael Johnson, ... from Foundation Venture Capital Group, Inc., has been named to the ... Johnson, 27,  was one of 600 people in 20 fields ... only four percent of the 15,000 applicants were selected. ... He is currently a PhD ...
(Date:1/4/2017)... Jan. 4, 2017  CES 2017 – Valencell ... technology, today announced the launch of two new ... the highly-accurate biometric sensor modules that incorporate the ... experience and expertise. The two new designs include ... for hearables, and Benchmark BW2.0, a 2-LED version ...
(Date:12/20/2016)... and GENEVA, Dec, 20, 2016   Valencell ... sensor technology, and STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), a ... of electronics applications, announced today the launch of ... for biometric wearables that includes ST,s compact ... Valencell,s Benchmark™ biometric sensor system. Together, SensorTile ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/19/2017)... BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) (NYSE: BDX ... host a live webcast of its Annual Meeting of Shareholders on ... The webcast can be accessed from the BD corporate website at ... 31, 2017. ... About BD BD is a global medical technology company that ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... to a new market research report "In situ Hybridization Market by Technique (FISH, ... Laboratories, Academic and Research Institutions) - Global Forecast to 2021" published by MarketsandMarkets, ... 557.1 Million in 2016, growing at a CAGR of 5.8%. ... ... Logo ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... Mass. , Jan. 18, 2017 ... applying mechanistic modeling to drug research and development, ... PhD, Co-Founder, President, and CEO of Applied BioMath, ... for Informatics and Modeling (BAGIM) Meeting on Thursday ... Cambridge , MA.   Dr. Burke,s ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... ... January 18, 2017 , ... ... Executives 2017 in its continued commitment to the advancement of the clinical trials ... current issues related to clinical trial planning and management. , As executive ...
Breaking Biology Technology: