Navigation Links
Scientists unravel the mystery of marine methane oxidation
Date:11/12/2012

This press release is available in German.

Microbiologists and geochemists from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, along with their colleagues from Vienna and Mainz, show that marine methane oxidation coupled to sulfate respiration can be performed by a single microorganism, a member of the ancient kingdom of the Archaea, and does not need to be carried out in collaboration with a bacterium, as previously thought. They published their discovery as an article in the renowned scientific journal Nature.

Vast amounts of methane are stored under the ocean floor. Anaerobic oxidation of methane coupled to sulfate respiration (AOM) prevents the release of this potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Although the process was discovered 35 years ago it has remained a long standing mystery as to how microorganisms perform this reaction. A decade ago, an important discovery was made which showed that two different microorganisms are often associated with AOM. It was proposed that these two microorganisms perform different parts of the AOM reaction. One, an archaeon, was supposed to oxidize methane and the other, a bacterium, was supposed to respire sulfate. This implied the existence of an intermediate compound to be shuttled from the methane oxidizer to the sulfate respirer.

Now, the team around Professor Kuypers has turned this whole model on its head. They show that the archaeon not only oxidizes methane but can also respire sulfate and does not necessarily need the bacterial partner. It appears that the archaeon does not employ the common enzyme toolbox that other known sulfate-respiring microorganisms use, but relies on a different, unknown pathway.

The basis for this dramatic shift in thinking is the observation that elemental sulfur is formed and accumulates in the methane-oxidizing archaeon. "Using chromatographic and state-of-the-art spectroscopic techniques we found surprisingly high concentrations of elemental sulfur in our cultures", says Professor Marcel Kuypers and adds: "The single-cell techniques showed that the sulfur content in the methane-degrading archaeon was much higher than in the bacterium. Our experiments show that this sulfur is formed during sulfate respiration."

This finding begs the question: What does the bacterium do if the archaeon does both sulfate respiration and methane oxidation? "The bacteria actually make a living off of the elemental sulfur produced by the archaea," explains Jana Milucka, first author of the study. "The bacteria grow by splitting the elemental sulfur into sulfate and hydrogen sulfide. This is a form of fermentation, like the process that produces alcohol."

"Until now we have always had trouble explaining the occurrence of elemental sulfur in oxygen-free sediments," notes Tim Ferdelman, scientist at the MPI Bremen and coauthor on the publication. "Our discoveries not only provide a mechanism for marine methane oxidation but also cast a new light on the carbon and sulfur cycling in marine, methane-rich sediments."


'/>"/>

Contact: Marcel Kuypers
mkuypers@mpi-bremen.de
49-421-202-8602
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Scientists discover new method of gene identification
2. Weber State Scientists discover possible building blocks of ancient genetic systems
3. Space research institute awards postdoctoral fellowships to 4 scientists
4. Space research institute awards postdoctoral fellowships to four scientists
5. 3,000 insect scientists coming to Knoxville next week
6. Stem cell scientists discover potential way to expand cells for use with patients
7. Losing protein helps heart recover, say Temple scientists
8. Scientists and Google to keep an eye on environment
9. Scientists identify insect-repelling compounds in Jatropha
10. UCSB scientists report new beginning in split-brain research, using new analytical tools
11. Berkeley Lab scientists help develop promising therapy for Huntingtons disease
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Scientists unravel the mystery of marine methane oxidation
(Date:3/23/2016)... 2016 Einzigartige ... und Stimmerkennung mit Passwörtern     ... MESG ), ein führender Anbieter digitaler Kommunikationsdienste, ... SpeechPro zusammenarbeitet, um erstmals dessen Biometrietechnologie einzusetzen. ... Möglichkeit angeboten, im Rahmen mobiler Apps neben ...
(Date:3/21/2016)... , March 22, 2016 ... recognition with passcodes for superior security   ... a leading provider of secure digital communications services, today ... biometric technology and offer enterprise customers, particularly those in ... facial recognition and voice authentication within a mobile app, ...
(Date:3/15/2016)... , March 15, 2016 ... report published by Transparency Market Research "Digital Door Lock Systems ... Forecast 2015 - 2023," the global digital door lock systems ... Mn in 2014 and is forecast to grow at a ... of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across the world ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/27/2016)... and READING, England ... Indegene ( http://www.indegene.com ), ein führender ... für die Life-Science-Branche, Pharmaunternehmen und Gesundheitsorganisationen, und ... Anbieter von innovativen wissenschaftlichen Support-Services für den ... von IntraScience heute den Ausbau ihrer bestehenden ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... and READING, England ... Indegene ( http://www.indegene.com ), a leading global provider ... science, pharmaceutical and healthcare organisations and TranScrip ( ... scientific support throughout the product lifecycle, today announced ... launch of IntraScience.      (Logo: ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... May 26, 2016 , ... After several promising ... at the City of Knowledge in Panama, a 6 year-old Duchenne’s muscular ... US earlier this year following FDA approval of a second application for a ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... , ... Lajollacooks4u has become a rising hotspot for specialized team building events ... attractions. Fortune 500 companies, such as Illumina, Hewlett-Packard, Qualcomm and Elsevier, have traveled ... , Each event kicks off with an olive oil and salt-tasting competition. From ...
Breaking Biology Technology: