Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The Secret Life Of Algae

Date:
January 14, 2006
Source:
Biotechnology And Biological Sciences Research Council
Summary:
A fundamental process that has puzzled researchers for many years has been explained by UK scientists. Some simple plants that are crucial in maintaining the balance of carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere require vitamin B12 to grow properly but it has been a mystery to scientists why some types needed external sources and others did not. Now researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Kent have discovered that half of all algae have a dependent but beneficial relationship with bacteria that make the vitamin for them.

A fundamental process that has puzzled researchers for many years has been explained by UK scientists. Some simple plants that are crucial in maintaining the balance of carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere require vitamin B12 to grow properly but it has been a mystery to scientists why some types needed external sources and others did not. Now researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Kent have discovered that half of all algae have a dependent but beneficial relationship with bacteria that make the vitamin for them.

The researchers, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), found that no algae have the necessary genes to produce vitamin B12. Those that do not require a supply are like higher plants; they have an alternative metabolic process that does not need the vitamin. However, algae that need vitamin B12 cannot make it themselves and must get it from somewhere else.

The scientists realised that the amount of vitamin B12 required to grow the types of algae that do need the vitamin in the laboratory is much higher than natural levels in the seas and rivers. They discovered that in the natural environment were bacteria that could supply the necessary vitamin B12 the algae needed. However, the relationship between the bacteria and algae was not one-way. The scientists found that the algae supported the bacteria by providing them with carbon from their own photosynthesis.

Dr Alison Smith, one of the research leaders at the University of Cambridge, said, “What these observations demonstrate is that, although algae live by harvesting the sun’s energy through photosynthesis, many of them are like animals in that they need another organism to supply them with a vital nutrient. This has implications for how we consider the ecosystems in the world’s oceans.”

Professor Julia Goodfellow, BBSRC Chief Executive, said, “Algae fix around half of the world’s carbon so it is vital that we can understand what affects their growth and wellbeing. Research into fundamental relationships and microscopic bacteria may not seem important at first but it is only by improving our understanding at this level that we can discover how to maintain the health of ecosystems at a global level.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Biotechnology And Biological Sciences Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Biotechnology And Biological Sciences Research Council. "The Secret Life Of Algae." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060114152028.htm>.
Biotechnology And Biological Sciences Research Council. (2006, January 14). The Secret Life Of Algae. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060114152028.htm
Biotechnology And Biological Sciences Research Council. "The Secret Life Of Algae." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060114152028.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Peace Corps is one of several U.S.-based organizations to pull workers out of West Africa because of the Ebola outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins