Navigation Links
Tiny marine microbes exert influence on global climate
Date:7/15/2010

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. New research indicates that the interactions of microscopic organisms around a particular organic material may alter the chemical properties of the ocean and ultimately influence global climate by affecting cloud formation in the atmosphere.

Justin Seymour, a research fellow at the University of Technology Sydney, is the lead author of a paper published in the July 16 issue of Science that describes how a relative of the smelly chemical that sea birds and seals use to locate prey, dimethylsulfide (DMS), may serve a similar purpose at the microbial scale, helping marine microorganisms find food and cycle chemicals that are important to climate.

"We found that ecological interactions and behavioral responses taking place within volumes of a fraction of a drop of seawater can ultimately influence important ocean chemical cycling processes," said Seymour.

Using microfluidic technology, the team of researchers led by Professor Roman Stocker of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, recorded microbes swimming toward the chemical dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) as it was released into a tiny channel occupied by the microbes.

The fact that the microbes actively moved toward the DMSP indicates that the tiny organisms play a role in ocean sulphur and carbon cycles, which exert a powerful influence on Earth's climate. How fast the microorganisms consume DMSP rather than converting it into DMS is important because DMS is involved in the formation of clouds in the atmosphere. This in turn affects the heat balance of the atmosphere.

Seymour, Stocker, Professor Rafel Sim of the Institute for Marine Sciences in Barcelona, and MIT graduate student Tanvir Ahmed carried out the research in the MIT laboratory of Stocker, who pioneered the use of microfluidics and video microscopy in the study of ocean microbes. The new study is the first to make a visual record of microbial behaviour in the presence of DMSP.

"It's important to be able to directly look at an environment in order to understand its ecology," Stocker said. "We can now visualize the behavior of marine microorganisms much like ecologists have done with macro-organisms for a long time."

To do this, the team recreated a microcosm of the ocean environment using a microfluidic device about the size of a flash drive with minuscule channels engraved in a clear rubbery material. The scientists injected DMSP into the channel in a way that mimics the bursting of an algal cell after viral infection a common event in the ocean then, using a camera attached to a microscope, they recorded whether and how microbes swam towards the chemical.

The researchers found that some marine microbes, including bacteria, are attracted to DMSP because they feed on it, whereas others are drawn to the chemical because it signals the presence of prey. This challenges previous theories that this chemical might be a deterrent against predators.

"Our observations clearly show that, for some plankton, DMSP acts as an attractant towards prey rather than a deterrent," said Sim, an expert on the role of DMSP in the sulfur cycle, "By simulating the microscale patches of the chemical cue and directly monitoring the swimming responses of the predators towards these patches, we get a much more accurate perception of these important ecological interactions than can be obtained from traditional bulk approaches."

"These scientists have used impressive technology to study interactions between organisms and their chemical environment at the scales they actually take place," said David Garrison, director of the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s biological oceanography program. "The research will give us new insights on the workings of microbial assemblages in nature."

The research also indicates that marine microorganisms have at least one behavioral characteristic in common with larger sea and land animals: we're all drawn to food.

The team plans to extend the research from the laboratory to the ocean environment; the team is working on an experimental system that can be used on board oceanographic ships working with bacteria collected directly from the ocean.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jennifer Hirsch
jfhirsch@mit.edu
617-253-1682
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Marine scientists return with rare creatures from the deep
2. Robot submarine patrols Lake Michigan for climate-change study
3. New online map shows network of protection for North Americas marine ecosystems
4. Oil spill threatens toothy marine predator that is cultural and historic icon
5. Study sheds light on how marine animals survive stress
6. Scientists to study impact of gulf oil spill on marine food webs
7. Scientists use biomedical technique to image marine worm
8. Marine protected areas conserve Mediterranean red coral
9. Hamlet fish sheds light on evolution of marine species
10. Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee to meet in Charleston, S.C.
11. FSU marine ecologist wins grant to study endangered sawfish
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Tiny marine microbes exert influence on global climate
(Date:6/9/2016)... , June 9, 2016  Perkotek an innovation leader in attendance control systems ... seamlessly log work hours, for employers to make sure the right employees are actually ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160609/377486LOGO ... ... ...
(Date:6/3/2016)... , June 3, 2016 ... von Nepal hat ... Lieferung hochsicherer geprägter Kennzeichen, einschließlich Personalisierung, Registrierung ... in der Produktion und Implementierung von Identitätsmanagementlösungen. ... Ausschreibung im Januar teilgenommen, aber Decatur wurde ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... -- Perimeter Surveillance & Detection Systems, Biometrics ... Support & Other Service  The latest report ... analysis of the global Border Security market . ... $17.98 billion in 2016. Now: In November ... software and hardware technologies for advanced video surveillance. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2016)... , Nov. 30, 2016  Tempus, a technology ... care, and Penn,s Abramson Cancer Center have partnered ... positive response to immunotherapy treatment based on next ... As part of a research collaboration, Tempus will ... melanoma cancer patient data to Penn. Utilizing next-generation ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... 30, 2016 Part of 5m$ Investment ... ... Aptuit, LLC today announced that it had successfully completed ... novel compounds have increased the Screening Collection to over 400,000. ... discovery capabilities of the company. This expansion, complemented by new ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... Woburn, MA (PRWEB) , ... November 30, 2016 ... ... broadband light sources for advanced technology applications, introduces the 5th generation, ultra-bright, Laser-Driven ... the highly successful Laser-Driven Light Source (LDLS™) technology, the EQ-77 offers higher radiance ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... ... November 30, 2016 , ... With growth rates averaging ... after five years and look forward to continuing their expansion in their new office ... area which has been traditionally favoured by the creative industries, so Random42 Scientific Communication ...
Breaking Biology Technology: