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.

Related Articles


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 January 29, 2015 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 January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dogs Bring on So Many Different Emotions in Their Human Best Friends

Dogs Bring on So Many Different Emotions in Their Human Best Friends

RightThisMinute (Jan. 28, 2015) From new-puppy happy tears to helpful-grocery-carrying-dog laughter, our four-legged best friends can make us feel the entire spectrum of emotions. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Say Earliest Snakes Lived Alongside The Dinosaurs

Scientists Say Earliest Snakes Lived Alongside The Dinosaurs

Newsy (Jan. 28, 2015) Wrongly categorized as lizard fossils, snake fossils now show the reptile could have developed earlier than we thought — 70 million years earlier. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sugary Drinks May Cause Early Puberty In Girls, Study Says

Sugary Drinks May Cause Early Puberty In Girls, Study Says

Newsy (Jan. 28, 2015) Harvard researchers found that girls who consumed more than 1.5 sugary drinks a day had their first period earlier than those who drank less. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Hold Emergency Meeting to Save Endangered Rhinos

Scientists Hold Emergency Meeting to Save Endangered Rhinos

AFP (Jan. 28, 2015) Conservationists and scientists hold talks in Kenya to come up with a last ditch plan to save the northern white rhinoceros from extinction. Duration: 01:06 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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