Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bacteria manipulate salt to build shelters to hibernate

Date:
July 25, 2014
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
For the first time, researchers have detected an unknown interaction between microorganisms and salt. When Escherichia coli cells are introduced into a droplet of salt water that is left to dry, bacteria manipulate the sodium chloride crystallization to create biomineralogical biosaline 3-D morphologically complex formations, where they hibernate. Afterwards, simply by rehydrating the material, bacteria are revived. The discovery was made by chance with a home microscope.

Dried biosaline patterns formed by the interaction of Escherichia coli cells with common salt.
Credit: J. M. Gómez-Gómez

For the first time, Spanish researchers have detected an unknown interaction between microorganisms and salt. When Escherichia coli cells are introduced into a droplet of salt water that is left to dry, bacteria manipulate the sodium chloride crystallisation to create biomineralogical biosaline 3-D morphologically complex formations, where they hibernate. Afterwards, simply by rehydrating the material, bacteria are revived. The discovery was made by chance with a home microscope, but it made the cover of the 'Astrobiology' journal and may help us find signs of life on other planets.

Related Articles


The bacterium Escherichia coli is one of the most studied living forms by biologists, but none had to date noticed what this microorganism can do within a simple drop of salt water: create impressive biomineralogical patterns in which it shelters itself when it dries.

"It was a complete surprise, a fully unexpected result, when I introduced E.. coli cells into salt water and I realised that the bacteria had the ability to join the salt crystallisation and modulate the development and growth of the sodium chloride crystals," biologist José María Gómez said.

"Thus, in around four hours, in the drop of water that had dried, an impressive tapestry of biosaline patterns was created with complex 3D architecture," added the researcher, who made the discovery with the microscope in his house, although he later confirmed it with the help of his colleagues from the Laboratory of BioMineralogy and Astrobiological Research (LBMARS, University of Valladolid-CSIC), Spain.

Until present, we knew of similar patterns created from saline solutions and isolated proteins, but this is the first report that demonstrates how whole bacterial cells can manage the crystallisation of sodium chloride (NaCl) and generate self-organised biosaline structures of a fractal or dendritic appearance. The study and the striking three-dimensional patterns are on the front cover of this month's edition of Astrobiology.

"The most interesting result is that the bacteria enter a state of hibernation inside these desiccated patterns, but they can later be 'revived' simply by rehydration," said Gómez, who highlighted a very important result from an astrobiological point of view: "Given the richness and complexity of these formations, they may be used as biosignatures in the search for life in extremely dry environments outside our own planet, such as the surface of Mars or that of Jupiter's satellite, Europa."

In fact, the LBMARS laboratory participates in the development of the Raman RLS instrument of the ExoMars rover, the mission that the European Space Agency (ESA) will send to the red planet in 2018, and this new finding may help them search for possible biological signs. According to the researcher, "the patterns observed will help calibrate the instrument and test its detection of signs of hibernation or traces of Martian life."

"The challenge we now face is to understand how the bacteria control the crystallisation of NaCl to create these incredible 3D structures and vice-versa, how salt influences this action, as well as studying the structure of these microorganisms that withstand desiccation," said Gómez, who reminds us that a simple curiosity and excitement about science, although it may be with simple means, still allows us to make some interesting discoveries: "This is a tribute to scientists such as the Spaniard Santiago Ramón y Cajal and the Dutch scientist Anton van Leeuwenhoek, who also worked from home with their own microscopes"


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. José María Gómez Gómez, Jesús Medina, David Hochberg, Eva Mateo-Martí, Jesús Martinez-Frias, Fernando Rull. Drying Bacterial Biosaline Patterns Capable of Vital Reanimation upon Rehydration: Novel Hibernating Biomineralogical Life Formations. Astrobiology, 2014; 140630120042004 DOI: 10.1089/ast.2014.1162

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Bacteria manipulate salt to build shelters to hibernate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140725080316.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2014, July 25). Bacteria manipulate salt to build shelters to hibernate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140725080316.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Bacteria manipulate salt to build shelters to hibernate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140725080316.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) — A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
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