Navigation Links
Unusual microbial ropes grow slowly in cave lake
Date:12/19/2008

Deep inside the Frasassi cave system in Italy and more than 1,600 feet below the Earth's surface, divers found filamentous ropes of microbes growing in the cold water, according to a team of Penn State researchers.

"Sulfur caves are a microbiology paradise. Many different types of organisms live in the caves and use the sulfur," says Jennifer L. Macalady, assistant professor of geosciences. "We are trying to map which organisms live where in the caves and how they correspond to the geochemical environment."

In this process, Macalady and her team discovered a previously unknown form of biofilm growing in the oxygen-deficient portion of the lake.

"The cave explorers had seen these strange biofilms," says Macalady. "So we asked them if they could get us a sample."

The Frasassi cave system is located north of Rome and south of Venice in the Marche region. These limestone caves are like New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns and Lechuguilla Cave, but in those caves, sulfur entered the caves from oil and gas reserves, while in Italy, the sulfur source is a thick gypsum layer below. Having sulfur in the environment allows sulfur-using organisms to grow.

The researchers received about the weight of two paper clips of the strange rope to analyze. They reported the results of their DNA sequencing today (Dec. 19) at the American Geophysical Union Conference in San Francisco.

"We did not retrieve any sequences for known methane-producing organisms or known methane oxidizers," says Macalady.

The researchers did find that about half the organisms were bacteria and the other half belonged to another single-celled group of organisms called archaea. The researchers identified half the bacteria as sulfate reducers, bacteria that convert sulfates into sulfide to obtain energy. Of the archaea, more than half were associated with organisms usually found in deep sea sediments and referred to as marine benthic group D (MBG-D). Researchers do not know how MBG-D organisms obtain energy, although they are always found in oxygen-less locations.

The 2 inches of ropey biofilm under study was two-tenth of an inch in diameter. Microscopic images of the rope show that some of the single-celled organisms have shapes that intertwine with each other and some have tendrils.

"We do not know why the have the shape they do," says Macalady. "Microorganisms in them likely secrete some sticky goo, an extra-cellular polymeric substance -- slime that holds them together."

What the researchers do know is that the location where these ropes grow is very low in available energy -- considered an energy-limiting environment. The location can support only very slow growth. The ropes range in length from one to two meters, and radiocarbon dating places them at 1,000 to 2,000 years old.

"Previous researchers have estimated the rate of cell growth in some deep sea sediments to a cell division every thousand years," says Macalady.

Microscopic images of the rope using three dyes, one for DNA, one for bacteria and one for archaea, show very little activity in the bacteria or archaea, probably because the dyes highlight ribosomes and they only exist in a cell when it is actively metabolizing.

The researchers, who include Macalady; Daniel S. Jones and Rebecca R. McCauley, graduate students, geosciences; Irene Schaperdoth, research associate; and Dan Bloom, undergraduate honors student in astrobiology, are hoping to obtain more microbial rope samples this summer. They will work with divers to get samples from the deepest and shallowest ends of the ropes in order to find clues about how they grow.


'/>"/>

Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Properties of unusual virus revealed in research
2. Researchers study virus with unusual properties
3. Unusual use of toys in infancy a clue to later autism
4. Genes and nutrition influence caste in unusual species of harvester ant
5. Popular apple variety harbors unusual cell growth
6. Unusual fish-eating dinosaur had crocodile-like skull
7. Biologists find unusual plant gene: abstinence by mutual consent
8. Scientists learn structure of enzyme in unusual virus
9. When under attack, plants can signal microbial friends for help
10. DOE JGI extends the capabilities of the Integrated Microbial Genome System
11. Antimicrobial sutures reduce infections in brain shunt surgery, study finds
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Unusual microbial ropes grow slowly in cave lake
(Date:6/21/2016)... , June 21, 2016 NuData Security announced ... new role of principal product architect and that ... director of customer development. Both will report directly ... officer. The moves reflect NuData,s strategic growth in ... to high customer demand and customer focus values. ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... , June 9, 2016  Perkotek an innovation leader in attendance control systems is ... log work hours, for employers to make sure the right employees are actually signing ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160609/377486LOGO ... ... ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... The Department of Transport Management (DOTM) of ... project, for the , Supply and Delivery of ... Infrastructure , to Decatur , ... Management Solutions. Numerous renowned international vendors participated in the tendering ... selected for the most compliant and innovative solution. The contract ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... 27, 2016  Global demand for enzymes is ... 2020 to $7.2 billion.  This market includes enzymes ... products, biofuel production, animal feed, and other markets) ... biocatalysts). Food and beverages will remain the largest ... consumption of products containing enzymes in developing regions.  ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Parallel 6 , the leading software as a service ... Virtual Patient Encounter CONSULT module which enables both audio and video telemedicine communication ... , Using the CONSULT module, patients and physicians can schedule a face to face ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... BOSTON , June 27, 2016   Ginkgo ... biology to industrial engineering, was today awarded as ... a selection of the world,s most innovative companies. ... at scale for the real world in the ... organism engineers work directly with customers including Fortune ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Researchers at the Universita Politecnica delle ... people with peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma. Their findings are the subject of a new ... , Diagnostic biomarkers are signposts in the blood, lung fluid or tissue of mesothelioma ...
Breaking Biology Technology: