Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Existence of vitamin 'deserts' in the ocean confirmed

Date:
July 23, 2012
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
Using a newly developed analytical technique was used to identify long-hypothesized vitamin B deficient zones in the ocean.

Scientists recover an array on a University of Hawaii research vessel.
Credit: Photo/Paul Lethaby

First hypothesized in the 1960s, marine zones where B-vitamins are undetectable may influence the growth of phytoplankton, the foundation of sea life. Using a newly developed analytical technique, a team led by scientists at USC was the first to identify long-hypothesized vitamin B deficient zones in the ocean.

Related Articles


"This is another twist to what limits life in the ocean," said Sergio Sañudo-Wilhelmy, professor of biological and earth sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and lead author on a paper about the vitamin-depleted zones that will appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on July 23.

B vitamins are organic compounds dissolved in the ocean and are important for living cells to function. Zones poor in B vitamins may inhibit the growth and proliferation of phytoplankton, which are tiny microorganisms at the base of the food chain in the ocean.

"An important result of our study is that the concentrations of the five major B vitamins vary independently and appear to have different sources and sink," said co-author David Karl, professor of oceanography and director of the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) at the University of Hawaii. "This could lead to complex interactions among populations of microbes, from symbiosis to intense competition."

In addition to being food for the tiniest sea animals, phytoplankton also absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, an important process when levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels are the highest they have been in half a million years.

The team developed a new method of concentrating water samples and then analyzing them using a mass spectrometer, which identifies and measures the quantity of an unknown compound in a given sample by first ionizing and breaking-up the compound and then quantifying the fragmented ions or molecules produced. (Mass spectrometry is also used to identify steroid use in athletes' urine samples.)

In their PNAS article, the researchers are sharing their technique with their colleagues around the world to help advance related research.

"The most important thing is that everyone with the right equipment can do it," Sañudo-Wilhelmy said.

Next, Sañudo-Wilhelmy said he plans to investigate what causes varying amounts of B-vitamins in different regions of the ocean, and try to determine exactly how that affects phytoplankton blooms. This includes a comprehensive set of experiments in the North Pacific Ocean as part of C-MORE's ongoing Hawaii Ocean Experiment.

Periodically, phytoplankton experience population explosions known as "blooms." In the case of certain phytoplankton that produce toxins, these blooms become toxic, such as the so-called "red" tides. Temperature, sunlight and nutrients in the water all appear to influence these blooms, but the exact causes have yet to be pinned down. One hypothesis is that vitamins B7 and B12 may act as triggers.

"It's crazy that after 100 years of study, we still don't fully understand what controls different phytoplankton blooms in the ocean," Sañudo-Wilhelmy said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California. The original article was written by Robert Perkins. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sergio A. Sañudo-Wilhelmy, Lynda S. Cutter, Reginaldo Durazo, Emily A. Smail, Laura Gómez-Consarnau, Eric A. Webb, Maria G. Prokopenko, William M. Berelson, and David M. Karl. Multiple B-vitamin depletion in large areas of the coastal ocean. PNAS, July 23, 2012 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1208755109

Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Existence of vitamin 'deserts' in the ocean confirmed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120723162613.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2012, July 23). Existence of vitamin 'deserts' in the ocean confirmed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120723162613.htm
University of Southern California. "Existence of vitamin 'deserts' in the ocean confirmed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120723162613.htm (accessed February 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, February 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

AFP (Feb. 27, 2015) — More than 200 people have been killed in a series of avalanches triggered by heavy snowfall in Afghanistan. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
France, Philippines Call for Agreement on Climate Change

France, Philippines Call for Agreement on Climate Change

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 27, 2015) — The presidents of France and the Philippines issue a joint appeal for a binding agreement on climate change. Katie Sargent reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Big Melt: Antarctica's Retreating Ice

The Big Melt: Antarctica's Retreating Ice

AP (Feb. 27, 2015) — From the ground in this extreme northern part of Antarctica, spectacularly white and blinding ice seems to extend forever. What can&apos;t be seen is the battle raging underfoot to re-shape Earth. Water is eating away at the Antarctic ice. (Feb. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Storm Means Dangerous Driving in South

Winter Storm Means Dangerous Driving in South

AP (Feb. 26, 2015) — A new winter storm is stretching across the south, making travel treacherous throughout the region. (Feb. 26) 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:

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