Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Marine Microorganisms: Surviving Mass Extinction By Leading A Double Life

Date:
July 19, 2009
Source:
University of Nottingham
Summary:
Drifting across the world's oceans are a group of unicellular marine microorganisms that are not only a crucial source of food for other marine life -- but their fossils, which are found in abundance, provide scientists with an extraordinary record of climatic change and other major events in the history of the Earth.

Drifting across the world’s oceans are a group of unicellular marine microorganisms that are not only a crucial source of food for other marine life — but their fossils, which are found in abundance, provide scientists with an extraordinary record of climatic change and other major events in the history of the earth.

Now, planktonic foraminifera — single-celled shell building members of the marine microplankton community — have given up a secret of their very own.

A team of experts, including scientists from The University of Nottingham, have presented remarkable evidence that planktonic foraminifera may have survived mass extinction by taking refuge on the sea floor.

Dr Chris Wade from the Institute of Genetics, said: “Using genetic data we have been able to prove that the planktonic species Streptochilus globigerus and the benthic — sediment living — foraminiferan Bolivina variabilis are one and the same biological species. Moreover, geochemical evidence shows that this species actively grows within the open-ocean surface waters, thus occupying both planktonic and benthic domains. Such ecologically-flexible species are eminently suited to the recolonisation of the extinction-susceptible planktonic domain following mass extinctions events, such as the end-Cretaceous event.”

It had been thought that all modern planktic foraminifers were descended from the few lucky survivors of the meteor impact that wiped out the dinosaurs and 65 to 70 per cent of life on earth 65 million years ago. However, this might not be the case.

Dr Wade together with PhD student Heidi Seears have shown that live specimens of the planktonic species Streptochilus globigerus, collected 600 miles offshore in the middle of the Arabian Sea, are genetically identical to the benthic species Bolivina variabilis, found off the coast of Kenya.

Their surprising discovery suggests that planktonic foraminifera may have survived the end Cretaceous mass-extinction by abandoning the poisonous oceans for a refuge in the relative safety of the sea-floor. When the oceans returned to normal, the survivors were able to recolonise the ocean surface once more.

The research, carried out in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh, has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Dr Kate Darling, from the University of Edinburgh, said: “If some species can switch between free-swimming and bottom-dwelling lifestyles, then it's possible that most planktic foraminifers may have survived the late Cretaceous extinction in the sediment, not in the plankton. It seems likely that the foraminifer species which had the ability to occupy both habitats survived on the sea-floor, avoiding the meteor impact catastrophe in the oceans above.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Nottingham. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kate F. Darling et al. Surviving mass extinction by bridging the benthic/planktic divide. PNAS, Published online before print July 2, 2009 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0902827106

Cite This Page:

University of Nottingham. "Marine Microorganisms: Surviving Mass Extinction By Leading A Double Life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090714124853.htm>.
University of Nottingham. (2009, July 19). Marine Microorganisms: Surviving Mass Extinction By Leading A Double Life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090714124853.htm
University of Nottingham. "Marine Microorganisms: Surviving Mass Extinction By Leading A Double Life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090714124853.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) An animal rescue in Washington state receives an influx of orphaned squirrels, keeping workers busy as they nurse them back to health. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) In a new study, a promising experimental treatment for Ebola managed to cure a group of infected macaque monkeys. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
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