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Sunday, 21 May 2017

The slow moving Microbes in deep down under the sea

Sea bed (Image: Pixabay)

The seabed is constantly filling with dead plankton, biological life and also brining down the bio-remnants from the shore. This is ultimately packing up all the ingredients that microbes need to sustain happily. But overtime new sources accumulate layer by layer on the previous sediments. So going deep under will unveil the past sources like moving back in time.

Deep down under the compressed time provides the evolutionary biologists huge difficulty to track genetic turn with community shifts in such a stable environment. In such no change in fluid movement can allow microbes to move or give back clues for horizontal gene transfer. Thus only chance that can happen is with any possible evolutionary changes or death. It has opened consequences that microbes still thrive as we go much deep down under the seabeds.

In a recent study that published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences determined how microbial communities in sea behave as they are suffocated with newer biological layers and being captivated without any movement. Dr. Piotr Starnawski from Center for Geomicrobiology, Aarhus University led the study of seven top meters of Aarhus bay sediment. He along with his team collected sediments from different points, counting cells and sequenced full genomes. Using several factors like carbon use, cell count and how much carbon turns into biomass (assumed 8%), team calculated the rate of reproduction. They found that on the surface microbes divide every few months but those which are deep down under much slower which takes decades to divide. The energy starved microbes deep inside needs enough time to accumulate the essential carbon and energy to replicate.
Such lower rates give rare possibility for mutation in their genome and to mark for evolution. 

Researchers on calculation found a  rate of 10-5 of mutation rate per genome per generation of a single bacterial species. This has a frequency of almost 100times slower than the surface microbes. So when this mutation does take place is mostly “synonymous”, i.e. the change in DNA does not change the protein structure and function.

Journal Source:
Starnawski P, Bataillon T, Ettema T, Jochum L, Schreiber L, Chen X et al. Microbial community assembly and evolution in subseafloor sediment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2017;114(11):2940-2945.


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