Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

Scientists unravel the mystery of marine methane oxidation

13.11.2012
Researchers uncover how microorganisms on the ocean floor protect the atmosphere against methane

Microbiologists and geochemists from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, along with their colleagues from Vienna and Mainz, show that marine methane oxidation coupled to sulfate respiration can be performed by a single microorganism, a member of the ancient kingdom of the Archaea, and does not need to be carried out in collaboration with a bacterium, as previously thought. They published their discovery as an article in the renowned scientific journal Nature.


The enrichment of the microorganisms responsible for marine AOM, archaea in red and bacteria in green from the Isis Mud Volcano in the Mediterranean Sea has taken 8 years of continuous incubation. Without these cultures it would not have been possible to trace down the complex sulfur cycling involved in AOM.

© Jana Milucka, MPI f. Marine Microbiology


In this model, methane oxidation and sulfate respiration to elemental sulfur (or all the way to sulfide) is performed by the methanotrophic archaea (ANME). The associated bacteria (DSS) are disproportionators (sulfur fermentors), which take up produced elemental sulfur in the form of disulfide and turn it into sulfate and sulfide. Dark circles represent iron- and phosphorus-rich precipitates found in the bacteria.

© Jana Milucka, MPI f. Marine Microbiology

Vast amounts of methane are stored under the ocean floor. Anaerobic oxidation of methane coupled to sulfate respiration (AOM) prevents the release of this potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Although the process was discovered 35 years ago it has remained a long standing mystery as to how microorganisms perform this reaction. A decade ago, an important discovery was made which showed that two different microorganisms are often associated with AOM. It was proposed that these two microorganisms perform different parts of the AOM reaction. One, an archaeon, was supposed to oxidize methane and the other, a bacterium, was supposed to respire sulfate. This implied the existence of an intermediate compound to be shuttled from the methane oxidizer to the sulfate respirer.

Now, the team around Professor Kuypers has turned this whole model on its head. They show that the archaeon not only oxidizes methane but can also respire sulfate and does not necessarily need the bacterial partner. It appears that the archaeon does not employ the common enzyme toolbox that other known sulfate-respiring microorganisms use, but relies on a different, unknown pathway.

The basis for this dramatic shift in thinking is the observation that elemental sulfur is formed and accumulates in the methane-oxidizing archaeon. “Using chromatographic and state-of-the-art spectroscopic techniques we found surprisingly high concentrations of elemental sulfur in our cultures”, says Professor Marcel Kuypers and adds: “The single-cell techniques showed that the sulfur content in the methane-degrading archaeon was much higher than in the bacterium. Our experiments show that this sulfur is formed during sulfate respiration.”
This finding begs the question: What does the bacterium do if the archaeon does both sulfate respiration and methane oxidation? “The bacteria actually make a living off of the elemental sulfur produced by the archaea”, explains Jana Milucka, first author of the study. “The bacteria grow by splitting the elemental sulfur into sulfate and hydrogen sulfide. This is a form of fermentation, like the process that produces alcohol.”

“Until now we have always had trouble explaining the occurrence of elemental sulfur in oxygen-free sediments”, notes Tim Ferdelman, scientist at the MPI Bremen and coauthor on the publication. ”Our discoveries not only provide a mechanism for marine methane oxidation but also cast a new light on the carbon and sulfur cycling in marine, methane-rich sediments.”

Contact

Dr. Marcel Kuypers
Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen
Phone: +49 421 2028-602
Fax: +49 421 2028-690
Email: mkuypers@­mpi-bremen.de
Dr. Rita Dunker
Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen
Phone: +49 421 2028-856
Fax: +49 421 2028-790
Email: rdunker@­mpi-bremen.de
Dr. Manfred Schlösser
Press Officer
Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen
Phone: +49 4 212028-704
Email: mschloes@­mpi-bremen.de

Original publication
Jana Milucka, Timothy G. Ferdelman, Lubos Polerecky, Daniela Franzke, Gunter Wegener, Markus Schmid, Ingo Lieberwirth, Michael Wagner, Friedrich Widdel, Marcel M. M. Kuypers
Zerovalent sulfur is a key intermediate in marine methane oxidation
Nature, 2012. 8 November, 2012. Doi: 10.1038/nature11656

Dr. Marcel Kuypers | Max-Planck-Institut
Further information:
http://www.mpg.de/6619070/marine-methane-oxidation

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Chains of nanogold – forged with atomic precision
23.09.2016 | Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland)

nachricht Self-assembled nanostructures hit their target
23.09.2016 | King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Synthese-chemischer Meilenstein: Neues Ferrocenium-Molekül entdeckt

Wissenschaftler der Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) haben zusammen mit Kollegen der Freien Universität Berlin ein neues Molekül entdeckt: Die Eisenverbindung in der seltenen Oxidationsstufe +4 gehört zu den Ferrocenen und ist äußerst schwierig zu synthetisieren.

Metallocene werden umgangssprachlich auch als Sandwichverbindungen bezeichnet. Sie bestehen aus zwei organischen ringförmigen Verbindungen, den...

Im Focus: Neue Entwicklungen in der Asphären-Messtechnik

Kompetenzzentrum Ultrapräzise Oberflächenbearbeitung (CC UPOB) lädt zum Expertentreffen im März 2017 ein

Ob in Weltraumteleskopen, deren Optiken trotz großer Abmessungen nanometergenau gefertigt sein müssen, in Handykameras oder in Endoskopen − Asphären kommen in...

Im Focus: Mit OLED Mikrodisplays in Datenbrillen zur verbesserten Mensch-Maschine-Interaktion

Das Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP arbeitet seit Jahren an verschiedenen Entwicklungen zu OLED-Mikrodisplays, die auf organischen Halbleitern basieren. Durch die Integration einer Bildsensorfunktion direkt im Mikrodisplay, lässt sich u.a. die Augenbewegung in Datenbrillen aufnehmen und zur Steuerung von Display-Inhalten nutzen. Das verbesserte Konzept wird erstmals auf der Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE), vom 18. – 19. Oktober 2016, in Berlin, Stand B25 vorgestellt.

„Augmented Reality“ (erweiterte Realität) und „Wearable Displays“ (tragbare Displays) sind Schlagworte, denen man mittlerweile fast täglich begegnet. Beide...

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Künstliche Intelligenz ermöglicht die Entdeckung neuer Materialien

Mit Methoden der künstlichen Intelligenz haben Chemiker der Universität Basel die Eigenschaften von rund 2 Millionen Kristallen berechnet, die aus vier verschiedenen chemischen Elementen zusammengesetzt sind. Dabei konnten die Forscher 90 bisher unbekannte Kristalle identifizieren, die thermodynamisch stabil sind und als neuartige Werkstoffe in Betracht kommen. Das berichten sie in der Fachzeitschrift «Physical Review Letters».

Elpasolith ist ein glasiges, transparentes, glänzendes und weiches Mineral mit kubischer Kristallstruktur. Erstmals entdeckt im El Paso County (USA), kann man...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics
Veranstaltungen

Einsteins Geburtsstadt wird für eine Woche Hauptstadt der Physik

23.09.2016 | Veranstaltungen

Industrie und Wissenschaft diskutieren künftigen Mobilfunk-Standard 5G auf Tagung in Kassel

23.09.2016 | Veranstaltungen

Fachgespräch Feste Biomasse diskutiert Fragen zum Thema "Qualitätshackschnitzel"

23.09.2016 | Veranstaltungen

 
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Das Korallenthermometer muss neu justiert werden

23.09.2016 | Biowissenschaften Chemie

Doppel-Infektion macht Erreger aggressiver

23.09.2016 | Biowissenschaften Chemie

Synthese-chemischer Meilenstein: Neues Ferrocenium-Molekül entdeckt

23.09.2016 | Biowissenschaften Chemie