Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Long-reigning microbe controlling ocean nitrogen shares the throne

Date:
February 26, 2010
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Marine scientists long believed that a microbe called Trichodesmium, a member of a group called the cyanobacteria, reigned over the ocean's nitrogen budget.

Surface accumulation of the nitrogen-fixing microbe Trichodesmium in the South Pacific Ocean.

Marine scientists long believed that a microbe called Trichodesmium, a member of a group called the cyanobacteria, reigned over the ocean's nitrogen budget.

New research results reported online February 25 in a paper in Science Express show that Trichodesmium may have to share its nitrogen-fixing throne: two others of its kind, small spherical species of nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria called UCYN-A and Crocosphaera watsonii, are also abundant in the oceans.

One of them, UCYN-A, is more widely distributed than Trichodesmium, and can live in cooler waters.

Different nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria, scientists have discovered, have varying preferences for water temperature and other environmental factors.

Pia Moisander and Jon Zehr of the University of California at Santa Cruz and their co-authors showed that actively nitrogen-fixing UCYN-A "can be found in great abundance at higher latitudes and deeper waters than Trichodesmium," says Moisander.

"Where Trichodesmium might be thought of as a warm-water microbe, UCYN-A likes it cooler," says Zehr. "This has far-reaching implications for the geographic distribution of the ocean's 'nitrogen fixers,' and for the process of nitrogen fixation itself."

According to co-author Joseph Montoya of the Georgia Institute of Technology, "we're now beginning to develop an appreciation for the biogeography of marine nitrogen fixation, and the broad range of oceanic habitats where nitrogen fixation makes a significant contribution to the overall nitrogen budget."

Most previous estimates of global nitrogen fixation were based on distributions of or factors that control the growth of Trichodesmium.

"The results of this study," says David Garrison, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Directorate for Geosciences, "show that these novel microbes are found in the world's oceans in a distribution analogous to that of non-nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria, which are widespread."

The research was also supported by NSF's Directorate for Biological Sciences and an NSF Science and Technology Center called C-MORE, the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education.

Trichodesmium, as well as UCYN-A and Crocosphaera watsonii, "fix" nitrogen in the seas, taking nitrogen gas from the air we breathe and converting it to chemical forms that other microorganisms can use to power their cellular machinery.

Nitrogen-fixing microorganisms are the key to the productivity of the oceans. Growth of microbes at the base of the food chain is dependent on nutrients like nitrogen, in the same way that agriculture on land depends on such nutrients.

Microorganisms that fix nitrogen play a central role, says Zehr, in the "vertical downward flux of organic matter to the deep ocean."

Life forms that are among our planet's smallest, he says, play a very large role. Through a series of steps in the nitrogen fixation process, they sequester carbon from the atmosphere, important in controlling Earth's climate.

Other authors of the paper are Roxanne Beinart and Ian Hewson of the University of California at Santa Cruz; Angelicque White of Oregon State University; Kenneth Johnson of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute; and Craig Carlson of the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The research received additional funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Long-reigning microbe controlling ocean nitrogen shares the throne." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100225164855.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2010, February 26). Long-reigning microbe controlling ocean nitrogen shares the throne. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100225164855.htm
National Science Foundation. "Long-reigning microbe controlling ocean nitrogen shares the throne." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100225164855.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

AP (July 25, 2014) Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe toured the Cherrystone Family Camping and RV Resort on the Chesapeake Bay today, a day after it was hit by a tornado. The storm claimed two lives and injured dozens of others. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 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