Navigation Links
New findings blow a decade of assumptions out of the water

The Atlantic Ocean doesn't receive the mother lode of fixed nitrogen, the building block of life, after all. Instead, comparing fathom for fathom, the Pacific and Indian oceans experience twice the amount of nitrogen fixing as the Atlantic, say researchers in the Jan. 11 issue of Nature.

The title of an accompanying News and Views piece says it all, "Looking for N2 Fixation in all the Wrong Places."

It's important to have a global picture of where nitrogen fixation is occurring ?that is where nitrogen gas is being converted into substances like nitrate that are usable by life ?in order to understand the environmental controls on nitrogen fixation and its likely response to climate change in the past and in the future, says Curtis Deutsch, a University of Washington research assistant and lead author of a paper in the Jan. 11 issue of Nature. The new research, for example, indicates that the inventory of nitrogen in the oceans is likely to be less subject to major fluctuations than had been assumed.

Because it has been thought that nitrogen fixation is limited without enough iron, the conventional wisdom for the past decade dictated that the Atlantic Ocean would be the prime site for fixing nitrogen. That's because compared to the other low-latitude oceans, the Atlantic is peppered with iron-laden dust blowing off the African continent.

Winds can't carry such dust all the way across the Pacific Ocean because it is so vast. Iron may still be a limiting factor in nitrogen fixation, but if it is, then the Pacific and Indian oceans are getting iron from some source other than atmospheric dust, Deutsch says.

The new research also means places where nitrogen is being fixed by certain microorganisms are in close proximity to where it is being pulled back apart into its gaseous state by a different kind of micoorganism, he says.

Nitrogen gas, N2, is unusable by life. It has to be fixed, that is, latched onto other che micals to form compounds such as nitrate, NO3. Only then can it be used to build amino acids and proteins essential to all life.

Eventually the fixed nitrogen is returned to its gaseous state, a process called denitrification. Scientists have known for several decades that denitrification occurs in the deep, low-oxygen waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans.

If the Atlantic was the site of a lot of nitrogen fixation, that would have put the two processes half a world away from each other. Scientists had estimated that, at those distances, it could take 1,000 years to re-balance the ocean's nitrogen cycle if large-scale changes were to occur in either nitrogen fixation or denitrification ?if climate change altered ocean temperatures and the rates of the two processes, for instance.

The new findings show the processes are happening within a few hundred miles of each other so the balance could be reached within a decade, the authors estimate. Deutsch compares the old assumption to a house where the thermostat is many rooms away from a window that has swung open, letting in cold air. The house could get quite chilly before the draft reaches the thermostat and the furnace turns on. But if the thermostat is in the same room as the window, the furnace will turn on and even out the temperature much faster.

In his research Deutsch used a novel analysis of surface nutrients in the world's oceans that relied on several decades of existing large-scale data on nitrogen-to-phosphorous ratios, phosphorous also playing a major role in primary production. His work has been supported by a NASA Earth System Science Fellowship and the UW Program on Climate Change.

"There has been a great deal of controversy in the literature as to whether fixed nitrogen in the ocean remains constant with time or fluctuates widely," says Jorge Sarmiento, professor of geosciences at Princeton University and one of the co-authors. "This study is a major advance for those of us who have been arguing that it is relatively stable."
'"/>

Source:University of Washington


Related biology news :

1. Surprising findings reported about iron overload
2. Study findings offer potential new targets for antibiotics
3. Oops! Researchers publish new findings on the brains response to costly mistakes
4. Biodiversity key to sustainable biofuel according to University of Minn. researchers findings
5. New findings offer more complete view of breast cancer gene mutations in US population
6. New stem-cell findings can help the body to cure itself
7. New findings could lead to vaccine for severe malaria
8. Research shows smoking adds a decade to reproductive age of IVF patients
9. New tiger report release: Tiger habitat down from just a decade ago
10. Survivors of childhood polio do well decades later as they age
11. Chronic pain up almost 40 percent among US workers in past decade

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:2/7/2017)... 7, 2017   MedNet Solutions , an innovative ... of clinical research, is pleased to announce that the ... innovative, highly flexible and award winning eClinical solution, is ... iMedNet is a proven Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) clinical research ... (EDC), but also delivers an entire suite of eClinical ...
(Date:2/7/2017)... 7, 2017 Ipsidy Inc. ( ... [OTC: IDGS], ("Ipsidy" or the "Company") a provider of ... services, is pleased to announce the following changes as ... Effective January 31, 2017, Philip D. Beck ... and President.  An experienced payment industry professional and public ...
(Date:2/3/2017)... -- Texas Biomedical Research Institute announced that its Board of Trustees ... the Institute,s new President and CEO. Dr. Schlesinger will take ... is currently the Chair of the Department of Microbial Infection ... Biology at Ohio State University. "We are delighted ... of Texas Biomed," said Dr. James O. Rubin , ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/21/2017)... ... February 21, 2017 , ... During ... connected digital health applications, announced a partnership with Redox, a leader in cloud-based ... to many clinical systems while keeping data secure in the cloud. , The ...
(Date:2/21/2017)... ... 2017 , ... The medical potential of stem cells is both extensive and ... due to their differentiating characteristics. Stem cells are unique as the have the potential ... to become tissue or organic-specific cells with special functions. , Stem cell therapy ...
(Date:2/21/2017)... and VANCOUVER, British Columbia , Feb. ... ) today announced that apatorsen results from two randomized Phase ... Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2017 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, held February 16 ... . Clinical data from trials in bladder and prostate cancers ... in combination with standard-of-care treatments. ...
(Date:2/21/2017)... , Feb. 21, 2017   Invitae Corporation ... information companies, today announced that members of the company,s ... 37th Annual Health Care Conference on Monday, March 6, ... Pacific in Boston, Massachusetts . ... may be accessed by visiting the investors section of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: