Navigation Links
The undead may influence biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions
Date:1/26/2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. It's commonly known, at least among microbiologists, that microbes have an additional option to living or dying dormancy.

Dormant microbes are less like zombies and more like hibernating bears. What isn't known, however, is how large numbers of dormant microorganisms affect the natural environments when they act as microbial seed banks. In the current issue of Nature Reviews: Microbiology, Jay Lennon, Michigan State University assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, examines the cellular mechanisms that allow microbes to hibernate and addresses the implications they can have on larger ecosystems such as soil, oceans, lakes and the human body.

"Only a tiny fraction is metabolically active at any given time," said Lennon, who is affiliated with MSU's Kellogg Biological Station and MSU's AgBioResearch. "How would our environment be altered, in terms of carbon emissions, nutrient cycling and greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide, by dramatic increases or decreases in the dormancy of microbes?"

Dormancy is a reversible state of low metabolic activity that organisms enter when they encounter hard times, such as freezing temperatures or starvation. Unlike plants that follow predictable growth cycles, microbes don't have to follow a linear progression. They could be growing, experience distress and go back to sleep. Once conditions change, they could start growing again without having to go through a full cycle.

"However, it does take a certain level of commitment, a certain energy investment to make it happen," Lennon said. "Just as people don't run out and winterize their homes if it gets cool in August, microbes want to be sure that truly hard times have set in before shifting into a dormant phase."

Consider that 90 percent of soil microorganisms are typically dormant and only half of bacterial species are active. Lennon and his co-author, Stuart Jones at the University of Notre Dame, theorize that dormancy and the presence of such large reservoirs of microbial "seed banks" have important implications for biodiversity and the stability and functioning of ecosystem services.

"The idea of a microbial seed bank is a rather novel concept, but from our research we found that dormancy and seed banks are prevalent in most ecosystems." Lennon said. "What's fascinating is that there's only a small fraction that are active, which means there's a large reservoir that could potentially be activated at any given time."

Dormancy and the seed bank effect make microbes more resilient and could play key roles in microbial biodiversity as species migrate or simply remain mostly dormant over extended periods, he added. Dormancy could also help explain the sudden outbreak of diseases, he said, perhaps sparked by some change in the environment.

"One-third of world's population carries dormant tuberculosis microbes," he said. "Obviously, you can live a long time with the dormant cell in your body, but it's important to understand what can trigger its reanimation or what maintains its dormancy."

As Lennon continues his research, he is particularly interested in identifying the triggers of dormancy and activation cycles as well as how climate change affects these processes.


'/>"/>

Contact: Layne Cameron
layne.cameron@ur.msu.edu
517-353-8819
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Molecular network influences development of chronic lymphocytic leukemia
2. More research needed on diet and environmental influences on childhood asthma
3. Longevinex exerts greater influence over genes than resveratrol
4. Mothers diets have biggest influence on children eating healthy
5. Psychologists identify influence of social interaction on sensitivity to physical pain
6. Biologists identify influence of environment on sexual vs. asexual reproduction
7. Scripps researchers, UCSD chemists to create center devoted to chemistrys influence on climate
8. Economic status, genetics together influence psychopathic traits
9. Tiny marine microbes exert influence on global climate
10. Distribution is what matters: How body fat influences the risk of diabetes
11. Doctors can influence when parents wean children from bottle, study finds
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/16/2017)... -- Veratad Technologies, LLC ( www.veratad.com ), an innovative and ... solutions, announced today they will participate as a sponsor ... May 17, 2017, in Washington D.C.,s ... Identity impacts the lives of billions of ... digital world, defining identity is critical to nearly every ...
(Date:5/6/2017)... -- RAM Group , Singaporean based technology ... biometric authentication based on a novel  quantum-state ... perform biometric authentication. These new sensors are based on a ... Group and its partners. This sensor will have widespread ... security. Ram Group is a next generation sensor ...
(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:8/23/2017)... ... August 23, 2017 , ... ... announced orders for advanced VPG+ 800 Volume Pattern Generators from two major Asian ... tomorrow’s demand for production of advanced photomasks as well as a solution for ...
(Date:8/22/2017)... ... August 22, 2017 , ... ... built upon patented KBioBox technology, the extended GUIDE-Seq ananlysis. KBioBox has adapted their ... pipeline to be provide scientists with easy to understand reports, extended indel analysis, ...
(Date:8/21/2017)... ... August 21, 2017 , ... ... its extensive experience with Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) and ‘big data’ ... In 2014, US healthcare spending exceeded $3.0 trillion with nearly 1/3 spent on ...
(Date:8/17/2017)... ... August 17, 2017 , ... CNA Finance Chief ... provided a research update on Aytu Bioscience and cited promising increases in the ... Soulstring, prescription rates for Natesto® have more than doubled since March of this ...
Breaking Biology Technology: