Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Global carbon cycle: Tiny creatures may play a crucial role in mixing ocean nutrients

Date:
October 12, 2010
Source:
American Physical Society
Summary:
Studies of microscopic swimming creatures show that the fluid flow they produce is much more complex than previously believed, and leads to large scale stirring of oceans and lakes that could affect the global carbon cycle.

Researchers have mapped the flow field around a swimming Volvox carteri microbe by tracking the movements of tiny tracer particles. The spherical Volvox is swimming towards the top of the image. Streamlines appear as red curves, and the color map corresponds to the fluid velocity.
Credit: K. Drescher, R. E. Goldstein, N. Michel, M. Polin, and I. Tuval, University of Cambridge

Two separate research groups are reporting groundbreaking measurements of the fluid flow that surrounds freely swimming microorganisms. Experiments involving two common types of microbes reveal the ways that one creature's motion can affect its neighbors, which in turn can lead to collective motions of microorganism swarms. In addition, the research is helping to clarify how the motions of microscopic swimmers produces large scale stirring that distributes nutrients, oxygen and chemicals in lakes and oceans.

A pair of papers describing the experiments will appear in the Oct. 11 issue of the APS journal Physical Review Letters.

In order to observe the flow that microorganisms produce, researchers at the University of Cambridge tracked the motion of tiny tracer beads suspended in the fluid surrounding the tiny swimmers. They used the technique to study the fluid around two very different types of creatures: a small, blue-green form of algae called Chlamydomonas reinhardtii that swims by paddling with a pair of whip-like flagella, and the larger, spherical alga Volvox carterii that propels itself with thousands of flagella covering its surface.

The tracer beads showed that the two types of organisms generate distinctly different flow patterns, both of which are much more complex than previously assumed. In a related study performed at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, researchers used a high speed camera to track the flow of tracer particles around Chlamydomonas in a thin, two-dimension film of fluid over the course of a single stroke of its flagella.

The studies should help scientists develop new models to predict the fluid motions associated with aquatic microorganisms. The models will provide clearer pictures of the ways microbes mix bodies of water, and potentially offer insights into the role plankton plays in the carbon cycle as it stirs the world's oceans.

David Saintillan (University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne) gives an overview of the microorganism swimming research in a Viewpoint article in the October 11 edition of APS Physics.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Physical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. David Saintillan. A quantitative look into microorganism hydrodynamics. Physics, 2010; 3 DOI: 10.1103/Physics.3.84
  2. Knut Drescher, Raymond Goldstein, Nicolas Michel, Marco Polin, Idan Tuval. Direct Measurement of the Flow Field around Swimming Microorganisms. Physical Review Letters, 2010; 105 (16) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.105.168101
  3. Jeffrey Guasto, Karl Johnson, J. Gollub. Oscillatory Flows Induced by Microorganisms Swimming in Two Dimensions. Physical Review Letters, 2010; 105 (16) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.105.168102

Cite This Page:

American Physical Society. "Global carbon cycle: Tiny creatures may play a crucial role in mixing ocean nutrients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101011090004.htm>.
American Physical Society. (2010, October 12). Global carbon cycle: Tiny creatures may play a crucial role in mixing ocean nutrients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101011090004.htm
American Physical Society. "Global carbon cycle: Tiny creatures may play a crucial role in mixing ocean nutrients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101011090004.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) The drop in price of soy on the international market is a cause for concern in Argentina, as soybean exports are a major source of income for Latin America's third largest economy. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) A mama bear and her two cubs climb trees, wrestle and take naps in the backyard of a Monrovia, California home. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) Once upon a time, farming was a blissfully low-tech business on Colombia's northern plains. Duration: 02:05 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