Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. 24/7 Space News .




EXO LIFE
How to Thrive in Battery Acid and Among Toxic Metals
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Mar 08, 2013


Rock in an Icelandic hot spring near Reykjavik with sulfur and Galdieria sulphuraria. Credit: Christine Oesterhelt.

In the movie Alien, the title character is an extraterrestrial creature that can survive brutal heat and resist the effects of toxins. In real life, organisms with similar traits exist, such as the "extremophile" red alga Galdieria sulphuraria.

In hot springs in Yellowstone National Park, Galdieria uses energy from the sun to produce sugars through photosynthesis.

In the darkness of old mineshafts in drainage as caustic as battery acid, it feeds on bacteria and survives high concentrations of arsenic and heavy metals.

How has a one-celled alga acquired such flexibility and resilience?

To answer this question, an international research team led by Gerald Schoenknecht of Oklahoma State University and Andreas Weber and Martin Lercher of Heinrich-Heine-Universitat (Heinrich-Heine University) in Dusseldorf, Germany, decoded genetic information in Galdieria.

They are three of 18 co-authors of a paper on the findings published in this week's issue of the journal Science.

The scientists made an unexpected discovery: Galdieria's genome shows clear signs of borrowing genes from its neighbors.

Many genes that contribute to Galdieria's adaptations were not inherited from its ancestor red algae, but were acquired from bacteria or archaebacteria.

This "horizontal gene transfer" is typical for the evolution of bacteria, researchers say.

However, Galdieria is the first known organism with a nucleus (called a eukaryote) that has adapted to extreme environments based on horizontal gene transfer.

"The age of comparative genome sequencing began only slightly more than a decade ago, and revealed a new mechanism of evolution--horizontal gene transfer--that would not have been discovered any other way," says Matt Kane, program director in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research.

Galdieria's heat tolerance seems to come from genes that exist in hundreds of copies in its genome, all descending from a single gene the alga copied millions of years ago from an archaebacterium.

"The results give us new insights into evolution," Schoenknecht says. "Before this, there was not much indication that eukaryotes acquire genes from bacteria."

The alga owes its ability to survive the toxic effects of such elements as mercury and arsenic to transport proteins and enzymes that originated in genes it swiped from bacteria.

It also copied genes offering tolerance to high salt concentrations, and an ability to make use of a wide variety of food sources. The genes were copied from bacteria that live in the same extreme environment as Galdieria.

"Why reinvent the wheel if you can copy it from your neighbor?" asks Lercher.

"It's usually assumed that organisms with a nucleus cannot copy genes from different species--that's why eukaryotes depend on sex to recombine their genomes.

"How has Galdieria managed to overcome this limitation? It's an exciting question."

What Galdieria did is "a dream come true for biotechnology," says Weber.

"Galdieria has acquired genes with interesting properties from different organisms, integrated them into a functional network and developed unique properties and adaptations."

In the future, genetic engineering may allow other algae to make use of the proteins that offer stress tolerance to Galdieria.

Such a development would be relevant to biofuel production, says Schoenknecht, as oil-producing algae don't yet have the ability to withstand the same extreme conditions as Galdieria.

.


Related Links
NSF
Life Beyond Earth
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





EXO LIFE
Evidence that comets could have seeded life on Earth
Berkeley CA (SPX) Mar 07, 2013
It's among the most ancient of questions: What are the origins of life on Earth? A new experiment simulating conditions in deep space reveals that the complex building blocks of life could have been created on icy interplanetary dust and then carried to Earth, jump-starting life. Chemists from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Hawaii, Manoa, showed that conditi ... read more


EXO LIFE
China to use modified rocket for moon landing mission

Water On The Moon: It's Been There All Along

Building a lunar base with 3D printing

US, Europe team up for moon fly-by

EXO LIFE
Mars rover 'sleeping' through solar storm

Curiosity Rover's Recovery on Track

NASA's Curiosity rover to be back online next week

Short Bump Gets Robotic Arm Closer to Rock Target

EXO LIFE
How to predict the progress of technology

Shadows over data sharing

NASA Launches Website to Design Interplanetary Missions

Sequestration and the Civil Space Industry

EXO LIFE
China's fourth space launch center to be in use in two years

China to launch new manned spacecraft

Woman expected again to join next China crew roster

China's space station will be energy-efficient

EXO LIFE
'Goody Bag' Filled With Sample Processing Supplies Arrives on Station

ESA's Columbus Biolab Facility

SpaceX set for third mission to space station

Record Number of Students Control ISS Camera

EXO LIFE
Vega launcher integration continues for its April mission

SpaceX's capsule arrives at ISS

Dragon Transporting Two ISS Experiments For AMES

SpaceX Optimistic Despite Dragon Capsule Mishap

EXO LIFE
The Birth of a Giant Planet?

Scientists spot birth of giant planet

NASA's Kepler Mission Discovers Tiny Planet System

Kepler helps astronomers find tiny exo planet

EXO LIFE
SXSW kicks off with vision of a 3D printing revolution

Atoms with Quantum-Memory

Big data: Searching in large amounts of data quickly and efficiently

Neutron scattering provides data on adsorption of ions in microporous materials




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement