Readers ask about Cuvier’s beaked whales, microbes in the atmosphere and more

cover of the November 7, 2020 issue

Waiting to exhale Cuvier’s beaked whales may rely on large stores of oxygen, a slow metabolism and the ability to tolerate lactic acid to dive for hours without surfacing for air, Erin Garcia de Jesus reported in “A beaked whale’s nearly four-hour-long dive sets a new record” (SN: 11/7/20, p. 5). “Your report on Cuvier’s […]

Scientists discover slimy microbes that may help keep coral reefs healthy

Corals have evolved over millennia to live, and even thrive, in waters with few nutrients. In healthy reefs, the water is often exceptionally clear, mainly because corals have found ways to make optimal use of the few resources around them. Any change to these conditions can throw a coral’s health off balance. Now, researchers […]

Modern microbes provide window into ancient ocean — ScienceDaily

Step into your new, microscopic time machine. Scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder have discovered that a type of single-celled organism living in modern-day oceans may have a lot in common with life forms that existed billions of years ago — and that fundamentally transformed the planet. The new research, which will appear Jan. […]

An avocado a day keeps your gut microbes happy, study shows — ScienceDaily

Eating avocado as part of your daily diet can help improve gut health, a new study from University of Illinois shows. Avocados are a healthy food that is high in dietary fiber and monounsaturated fat. However, it was not clear how avocados impact the microbes in the gastrointestinal system or “gut.” “We know eating avocados […]

Microbes help unlock phosphorus for plant growth — ScienceDaily

Phosphorus is a necessary nutrient for plants to grow. But when it’s applied to plants as part of a chemical fertilizer, phosphorus can react strongly with minerals in the soil, forming complexes with iron, aluminum and calcium. This locks up the phosphorus, preventing plants from being able to access this crucial nutrient. To overcome this, […]

Plant research seals importance of microbes for survival and growth

Scientists have revealed that plants have a ‘sealing’ mechanism supported by microbes in the root that are vital for the intake of nutrients for survival and growth. Plant Scientists from the Future Food Beacon at the University of Nottingham have demonstrated that the mechanism controlling the root sealing in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana influences […]

50 years ago, scientists suspected microbes flourished in clouds

Clouds may be ecosystems — Science News, November 14, 1970 Clouds in the sky may contain living microbial ecosystems…. [Research] determined that metabolic activity, in the form of CO2 uptake into organic material, occurred in [airborne] dust over a 24-hour period, whereas it did not occur in sterilized control dust. Update The atmosphere is rich in […]

These rock-eating microbes could help us settle the Moon and Mars

In this microscopic image, Sphingomonas desiccabilis is growing on basalt. (UK Centre for Astrobiology/University of Edinburgh–Rosa Santomartino/) If humans ever want to take the unprecedented step of establishing a base on the Moon, Mars, or any other celestial destination, they may need to extract resources from local rocks to support themselves. According to a new […]

New software for fast and easy analysis of environmental microbes

The two lead authors share a passion for bioinformatics and symbiotic critters in marine sands. Here, they are searching for small worms under the microscope at Carrie Bow Cay Field Station in Belize. Credit: Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology Microbiologists traditionally determine which organisms they are dealing with using the small subunit ribosomal RNA […]

New software for fast and easy analysis of environmental microbes — ScienceDaily

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen are developing a user-friendly method to reconstruct and analyze SSU rRNA from raw metagenome data. First the background: Microbiologists traditionally determine which organisms they are dealing with using the small subunit ribosomal RNA or in short SSU rRNA gene. This marker gene allows to […]