Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. 24/7 Space News .




EXO LIFE
Life in the extreme
by Staff Writers
Raleigh NC (SPX) Sep 25, 2012


A single-celled organism from a hot spring near Mount Vesuvius in Italy fights uranium toxicity directly - by eating the heavy metal and acquiring energy from it.

Life in extreme environments - hot acids and heavy metals, for example - can apparently make very similar organisms deal with stress in very different ways, according to new research from North Carolina State University.

One single-celled organism from a hot spring near Mount Vesuvius in Italy fights uranium toxicity directly - by eating the heavy metal and acquiring energy from it. Another single-celled organism that lives on a "smoldering heap" near an abandoned uranium mine in Germany overcomes uranium toxicity indirectly - essentially shutting down its cellular processes to induce a type of cellular coma when toxic levels of uranium are present in its environment.

Interestingly, these very different responses to environmental stress come from two organisms that are 99.99 percent genetically identical.

In a paper published this week online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, NC State researchers show that these extreme organisms - basic life forms called Archaea that have no nucleus and that are so tiny they can only be seen under a microscope - can teach us a lot about how living things use different mechanisms to adapt to their surroundings.

The researchers, led by Dr. Robert Kelly, Alcoa Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at NC State, exposed two very close relatives of thermoacidophilic Archaea - they live in highly acidic environments with temperatures of more than 70 degrees Celsius, or about 160 degrees Fahrenheit - to pure uranium. One, Metallosphaera sedula, metabolized the uranium as a way to support its energy needs.

That in itself was surprising to Kelly and his fellow researchers, as it was the first report that an organism can directly use uranium as an energy source.

"This could be a new way to mine uranium using microorganisms to release the metal from ores - a process referred to as bioleaching," Kelly says of M. sedula.

Its genetic twin, Metallosphaera prunae, reacted very differently. When faced with pure uranium, it went into a dormant state, shutting down critical cellular processes that enable it to grow. When the toxic threat was removed, M. prunae rebooted its cellular processes and returned to its normal state.

Kelly hypothesizes that M. prunae is an offshoot of M. sedula, with just a small number of mutations, or changes, to its genome that allow it to react differently when faced with heavy-metal toxicity.

Kelly says the findings could also have implications for understanding how antibiotic resistance develops and operates in pathogens.

"We have come across a new model for how organisms learn how to live in an environment that would otherwise be deadly for them," he says.

Kelly adds that the study calls into question the ways that scientists classified living things before the rise of the genomic era.

"How do we classify microorganisms now that we can compare genomes so easily?" Kelly asks. "These are not different species by the classical definition because their genomes are virtually identical, but they have very different phenotypes, or lifestyles, when faced with stress."

"Uranium extremophily is an adaptive, rather than intrinsic, feature for extremely thermoacidophilic Metallosphaera species" Authors: Arpan Mukherjee, Garrett H. Wheaton and Robert M. Kelly, North Carolina State University; Paul H. Blum, University of Nebraska. Published: Online the week of Sept. 24, 2012, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

.


Related Links
North Carolina State University
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
We are not alone
Hong Kong (XNA) Sep 20, 2012
Space exploration has become a national priority for China - and a Hong Kong scientist appointed to an international body searching for alien life says he is confident many of us will live to see the first evidence of extra-terrestrial life. It was at the opening of the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in Beijing that it dawned upon Professor Sun Kwok, the University of H ... read more


EXO LIFE
Protection for Moon, Mars astronauts eyed

Russia to start research base on the Moon

Remains of astronaut legend Neil Armstrong buried at sea

Memorial service honors 'man on the moon' Armstrong

EXO LIFE
Why Curiosity Matters

Robotic Arm Tools Get to Work

NASA Mars Rover Targets Unusual Rock Enroute to First Destination

Curiosity's Stars and Stripes

EXO LIFE
B612 Wins Funding Support From Prominent Business Leadersy

Cavenauts return to Earth

Brazil unveils tax incentives to boost tech innovation

New Technology Being Stymied by Copyright Law

EXO LIFE
China Spacesat gets 18-million-USD gov't support

Tiangong Orbit Change Signals Likely Date for Shenzhou 10

China Focus: Timeline for China's space research revealed

China eyes next lunar landing as US scales back

EXO LIFE
Crew Members Prepare for Departure

ISS Crew Lands Safely in Kazakhstan

ISS Crew Enjoys Light Duty Day

Europe's ATV-3 Spacecraft to Readjust Space Station's Orbit

EXO LIFE
California Governor Signs the Spaceflight Liability and Immunity Act

Processing is underway with the next Automated Transfer Vehicle to be orbited by Arianespace

Fueling underway with the Galileo satellites for next Soyuz launch from French Guiana

SpaceX, NASA Target Oct. 7 Launch For Resupply Mission To Space Station

EXO LIFE
Meteors Might Add Methane to Exoplanet Atmospheres

Two 'hot Jupiters' found in star cluster: NASA

Planets Can Form in the Galactic Center

Birth of a planet

EXO LIFE
Cancer research yields unexpected new way to produce nylon

Yale Researchers Call for Specialty Metals Recycling

Drink, flirt, stumble home: there's a beer fest app for that

Researchers Demonstrate Cheaper Way To Produce NFO Thin Films




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