HOME >> BIOLOGY >> NEWS
Living in a glass house: Ocean organism's novel dwelling helps Earth's atmosphere

Why live in a glass house? For diatoms -- tiny ocean-dwelling organisms that live in exquisitely ornate glass cases -- the benefit turns out to be enormous.

In a paper published in the Sept. 13 issue of Science, Princeton scientists show that diatoms probably depend on glass to survive because the material facilitates photosynthesis. However, their study suggests that this domestic arrangement has a much bigger beneficiary: the entire planet, which owes its present-day, oxygen-rich and carbon-poor atmosphere in part to diatoms and their effective use of glass.

Diatoms are one-celled organisms that are so prolific they account for a quarter of all the photosynthesis on the planet. In photosynthesis, organisms use sunlight and carbon dioxide to make sugar and oxygen.

"These guys proliferated at a time when atmospheric carbon dioxide took a big dive" 40 to 60 million years ago, said geochemist Allen Milligan, who conducted the study in collaboration with Francois Morel, director of the Princeton Environmental Institute.

The low carbon dioxide levels, while good for us today, posed a serious problem for plant life: how to perform photosynthesis when one of the raw ingredients is in short supply. Milligan and Morel found that diatoms solved the problem by encasing themselves in glass, which has chemical properties that help them concentrate carbon dioxide inside their vessels. With this device, diatoms flourished and now play an important role in keeping carbon dioxide levels low.

Diatoms have been a source of fascination since the first microscopes of the 1600s allowed scientists to sketch their intricate glass cases in pen and ink. The tough porous shells also have a variety of commercial uses. Swimming pool owners commonly use diatomaceous earth, which is rich with old diatom shells, to filter contaminants from pool water. In the 1860s, Alfred Nobel invented dynamite by using silica from diatoms to stabilize nitroglycerine in
'"/>

Contact: Steven Schultz
sschultz@princeton.edu
609-258-5729
Princeton University
18-Sep-2002


Page: 1 2

Related biology news :

1. Living at home helps young mothers stay in school
2. Virginia Tech professor Marjorie Grene is the first woman in The Library of Living Philosophers
3. Living in large groups could give you a better memory
4. Alcoholics Children: Living With A Stacked Biochemical Deck
5. Flatworms Are Oldest Living Ancestors To Those Of Us With Right And Left Sides, Reported In The 19 March Issue Of Science
6. Living Bone Created By University of Toronto Researchers
7. Jurassic Beetle: CSIRO Entomologist Discovers Living Fossil
8. Living With Biodiversity:What You Can REALLY Do
9. Does Mountain Living Slow Rate Of Molecular Evolution?
10. Electron Accelerator Provides Unique Proof Of Gene Repair Process In Living Cells
11. Dietary Determinants Of Iron Stores In A Free-Living Elderly Population: The Framingham Heart Study

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:6/28/2020)... JUPITER, Fla. (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2020 , ... ... will focus on innovations in accelerated Point of Care Testing solutions (POCT). Check local ... labs. Samples are collected at medical offices and are shipped to labs throughout the ...
(Date:6/23/2020)... England (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2020 , ... ... Africa supporting sustainable healthcare, and Renovagen Ltd, a UK supplier and manufacturer of ... project to support testing operations in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in ...
(Date:6/23/2020)... ... , ... In its June 22 online post, business and technology news platform ... Ph.D., founder and director of stem cell biotechnology company Asymmetrex . Superb Crew ... starting July 5 it would begin offering free tissue stem cell counting ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:7/31/2020)... ... , ... The SDX® Respiratory Gating System , trusted ... its 20th anniversary of worldwide use. Introduced in the US over the past ... of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, University of Maryland, University of California San Francisco—and ...
(Date:7/18/2020)... DAYTON, Ohio (PRWEB) , ... July 16, 2020 ... ... clinical data solutions to aid in the early detection and prevention of high-burden ... partnership to enable US-based hospitals and healthcare organizations to utilize existing data in ...
(Date:7/10/2020)... ... July 09, 2020 , ... Sentien Biotechnologies, Inc., a clinical-stage ... Allen R. Nissenson, M.D., F.A.C.P., as its Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Nissenson ... product, SBI-101. Dr. Nissenson serves as an Emeritus Professor of Medicine at ...
(Date:7/1/2020)... ... June 30, 2020 , ... Flagship ... of a new clinical diagnostics immuno-oncology service, TissueInsight . TissueInsight provides ... “Flagship’s TissueInsight is a service that aids pathologists, oncologists, and immunologists in ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: