Ecosystems under threat from ocean acidification
Acidification of the oceans as a result of increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide could have significant effects on marine ecosystems, according to Michael Maguire presenting at the Society for General Microbiology's spring meeting in Edinburgh this week. Postgraduate researcher Mr Maguire, together with colleagues at Newcastle University, performed experiments in which they simulated ocean acidification as predicted by current trends of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The group found that the decrease in ocean pH (increased acidity) resulted in a sharp decline of a biogeochemically important group of bacteria known as the Marine Roseobacter clade. "This is the first time that a highly important bacterial group has been observed to decline in significant numbers with only a modest decrease in pH," said Mr Maguire.
The Marine Roseobacter clade is responsible for breaking down a sulphur compound called dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) that is produced by photosynthesising plankton. This end product is taken up and used by numerous bacteria as an important source of sulphur. A fraction of DMSP is turned into Dimethylsulfide (DMS) – a naturally occurring gas that influences the Earth's climate. DMS encourages the formation of clouds which reflect solar radiation back into space leading to a cooling of the earth's surface.
Mr Maguire's group hypothesizes that the decline of the Marine Roseobacter clade through ocean acidification may alter the release of DMS into the atmosphere and affect the amount of available sulphur. He believes this will have a significant impact on the ocean's productivity and the overall global climate system. "Ocean acidification will not only have large scale consequences for marine ecosystems but also socio-economical consequences due to changes in fish stocks and erosion of coral reefs," he explained.
Source: Society for General Microbiology
Articles on the same topic
- Microbial answer to plastic pollution?Sun, 28 Mar 2010, 19:24:32 EDT
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Penn medicine researchers predict sudden cardiac death risk
- Children with food allergies predisposed to asthma, rhinitis
- Temple scientists discover structural clues to calcium regulation in cells
- Ecological consequences of amphetamine pollution in urban streams
- Blending wastewater may help California cope with drought
- NASA sees sixth tropical cyclone form in Atlantic
- NASA sees formation of Atlantic Ocean's Tropical Storm Fiona
- Computers trounce pathologists in predicting lung cancer type, severity, researchers find
- Urbanization affects diets of butterflies: NUS study
- Yale study identifies how Zika virus infects the placenta