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:3/23/2017)... , Mar. 23, 2017 Research and ... System Market Analysis & Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025" ... ... grow at a CAGR of around 8.8% over the next decade ... industry report analyzes the market estimates and forecasts for all the ...
(Date:3/20/2017)... , March 20, 2017 At this year,s ... -based biometrics manufacturer DERMALOG. The Chancellor came to the DERMALOG stand ... is this year,s CeBIT partner country. At the largest German biometrics ... in use: fingerprint, face and iris recognition as well as DERMALOG´s multi-biometrics ... ...
(Date:3/9/2017)... Australia , March 9, 2017 4Dx ... prestigious World Lung Imaging Workshop at the University of ... was invited to deliver the latest data to world ... recognised event brings together leaders at the forefront of ... in lung imaging. "The quality of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/20/2017)... , April 20, 2017  Eli Lilly and Company ... data evaluating galcanezumab for the prevention of migraine at ... will take place April 22-28, 2017, in ... four abstracts at AAN, including safety and patient outcomes ... associated with a reduction in monthly migraine headache days ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... 2017 /PRNewswire/ - Prometic Life Sciences Inc. (TSX: PLI) (OTCQX: PFSCF) ... International Liver Congress ("ILC") 2017 of the European Association for ... on the positive effects of PBI-4050 on reduction ... and metabolic syndrome. ... to Dr. Lyne Gagnon, Vice-President of R&D Pre-clinical of Prometic ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... Dutch philosopher Koert van Mensvoort - founder of the Next Nature ... Eindhoven - has written a ,Letter to Humanity, in support of ... becoming a slave and victim to its own technology, but to employ technology ... ... Mensvoort – founder of the Next Nature Network and Fellow of ‘Next Nature’ ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... Linda, Ca (PRWEB) , ... April 18, 2017 , ... ... new technological advances. This webinar, which is part of the Protein and Cell ... Flow Cytometer and outline where this technology fits in current and future applications. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: