Navigation Links
Surviving mass extinction by leading a double life

Drifting across the world's oceans are a group of unicellular marine microorganisms that are not only a crucial source of food for other marine life but their fossils, which are found in abundance, provide scientists with an extraordinary record of climatic change and other major events in the history of the earth.

Now, planktonic foraminifera single-celled shell building members of the marine microplankton community have given up a secret of their very own.

A team of experts, including scientists from The University of Nottingham, have presented remarkable evidence that planktonic foraminifera may have survived mass extinction by taking refuge on the sea floor.

Dr Chris Wade from the Institute of Genetics, said: "Using genetic data we have been able to prove that the planktonic species Streptochilus globigerus and the benthic sediment living foraminiferan Bolivina variabilis are one and the same biological species. Moreover, geochemical evidence shows that this species actively grows within the open-ocean surface waters, thus occupying both planktonic and benthic domains. Such ecologically-flexible species are eminently suited to the recolonisation of the extinction-susceptible planktonic domain following mass extinctions events, such as the end-Cretaceous event."

It had been thought that all modern planktic foraminifers were descended from the few lucky survivors of the meteor impact that wiped out the dinosaurs and 65 to 70 per cent of life on earth 65 million years ago. However, this might not be the case.

Dr Wade together with PhD student Heidi Seears have shown that live specimens of the planktonic species Streptochilus globigerus, collected 600 miles offshore in the middle of the Arabian Sea, are genetically identical to the benthic species Bolivina variabilis, found off the coast of Kenya.

Their surprising discovery suggests that planktonic foraminifera may have survived the end Cretaceous mass-extinction by abandoning the poisonous oceans for a refuge in the relative safety of the sea-floor. When the oceans returned to normal, the survivors were able to recolonise the ocean surface once more.

The research, carried out in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh, has been published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Dr Kate Darling, from the University of Edinburgh, said: "If some species can switch between free-swimming and bottom-dwelling lifestyles, then it's possible that most planktic foraminifers may have survived the late Cretaceous extinction in the sediment, not in the plankton. It seems likely that the foraminifer species which had the ability to occupy both habitats survived on the sea-floor, avoiding the meteor impact catastrophe in the oceans above.


Contact: Dr. Chris Wade
University of Nottingham

Related biology news :

1. Surviving the revolution, easier than withstanding human use and abuse
2. Report: African, Asian, Latin American farm animals face extinction
3. Scientists fear rare dolphin driven to extinction by human activities
4. Research team says extraterrestrial impact to blame for Ice Age extinctions
5. Fossil record supports evidence of impending mass extinction
6. Meteor no longer prime suspect in great extinction
7. NAS Biodiversity and Extinction Meeting Dec. 7-8
8. Scientists warn that species extinction could reduce productivity of plants on Earth by half
9. Stanford researchers say climate change will significantly increase impending bird extinctions
10. Fish farms drive wild salmon populations toward extinction
11. Recovering from a mass extinction
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/14/2017)... June 15, 2017  IBM (NYSE: IBM ) is introducing ... event dedicated to developing collaboration between startups and global businesses, ... 15-17. During the event, nine startups will showcase the solutions ... various industries. France ... market, with a 30 percent increase in the number of ...
(Date:5/16/2017)...   Bridge Patient Portal , an enterprise ... EMR Systems , an electronic medical record solutions ... established a partnership to build an interface between ... Centricity™ products, including Centricity Practice Solution (CPS), Centricity ... new integrations will allow healthcare delivery networks using ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... 2017 The global military biometrics ... marked by the presence of several large global players. ... five major players - 3M Cogent, NEC Corporation, M2SYS ... nearly 61% of the global military biometric market in ... global military biometrics market boast global presence, which has ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... United States multicenter, prospective clinical study that demonstrates the accuracy of the ... of identifying clinically significant acute bacterial and viral respiratory tract infections by ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... Foundation President Andi Purple announced Dr. Suneel I. Sheikh, the co-founder, CEO ... ASTER Labs ), Inc. has been selected for membership in ARCS Alumni ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... 11, 2017 , ... Proscia Inc ., a data ... titled, “Pathology is going digital. Is your lab ready?” with Dr. Nicolas Cacciabeve, ... and how Proscia improves lab economics and realizes an increase in diagnostic confidence.* ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... compared the implantation and pregnancy rates in frozen and fresh in vitro ... of progesterone and maternal age to IVF success. , After comparing the results ...
Breaking Biology Technology: