HOME >> BIOLOGY >> NEWS
Microbiologists find a new source of nitrogen fixation

Corkscrew bacteria in termite guts and natural waters help capture a key element

Microbiologists have discovered that a type of bacteria found in termite guts and in fresh and salt water plays a major role in the process of nitrogen fixation. All organisms require the element to survive.

In the June 29 issue of the journal Science, a team led by National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded microbiologist John Breznak of Michigan State University (MSU) reports that spirochetes - spiral and wavy-shaped bacteria - are important providers of nitrogen in termites, whose ability to thrive despite a nitrogen-poor diet of plant matter had posed a decades old puzzle.

Although nitrogen gas makes up 80 percent of the air we breathe, only certain microbes can capture and use it for growth - a process called nitrogen fixation. Once nitrogen gas becomes "fixed" by microbes, it enters the food chain and is ultimately used by plants and animals.

Scientists have known for about 30 years that nitrogen fixation occurs within termites and could furnish up to 60 percent of the insects' nitrogen needs. But the particular microbes performing that fixation had been unclear. With colleagues at MSU and the California Institute of Technology, Breznak isolated spirochetes from termite guts and grew them in test tubes where they could be examined in detail.

"The spirochetes not only contained the genes for nitrogen fixation," Breznak said, "they performed nitrogen fixation at rates consistent with those seen in living termites. This was very exciting, because nitrogen fixation had never been described before in these fascinating, widely distributed bacteria."

The researchers then examined other spirochetes and found that nitrogen fixation also occurs in free-living, aquatic spirochetes, implying that their impact is global. They also found genes for nitrogen fixation in spirochetes that inhabit the human mouth and the intes
'"/>

Contact: Tom Garritano
tgarrita@nsf.gov
703-292-8070
National Science Foundation
28-Jun-2001


Page: 1 2

Related biology news :

1. New Arizona State center brings science to policy on issues of water resources and urban growth
2. Posters highlight water, energy and other natural resource research
3. Tufts University establishes $4 million dollar tissue engineering resource center
4. Review article makes case for a new source of cells in the body
5. Most Americans not sure about the sources of high cholesterol
6. National Bioinformatics Resource Center to support infectious disease research
7. Cardiofunk mutation: Probable source of congenital heart defects
8. Nerac to expand patent collection with 17 more resources
9. Crystallographers take note: A synchrotron light source for your home lab
10. Bay area to get unique x-ray microscopy resource
11. Workshop for new synchrotron light source at Brookhaven

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


(Date:3/21/2016)... 2016 Unique technology combines ... superior security   Xura, Inc. ... secure digital communications services, today announced it is working ... enterprise customers, particularly those in the Financial Services Sector, ... authentication within a mobile app, alongside, and in combination ...
(Date:3/14/2016)... Florida , March 14, 2016 ... the growing mobile commerce market, announces the airing of a ... channels starting the week of March 21 st .  The ... CNBC, including its popular Squawk on the Street show. ... focused on the growing mobile commerce market, announces the airing ...
(Date:3/10/2016)...   Unisys Corporation (NYSE: UIS ) today ... is testing its biometric identity solution at the Otay Mesa ... help identify certain non-U.S. citizens leaving the country. ... help determine the efficiency and accuracy of using biometric technologies ... run until May 2016. --> the United ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding ... has granted the company’s orphan drug designation request covering BHV-4157 for the treatment ... by the FDA. , Spinocerebellar ataxia is a rare, debilitating neurodegenerative disorder ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... , ... May 23, 2016 , ... The need for blood donations in South Texas ... by the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, blood donations are on the decline. In ... and they are down 21 percent in South Texas in the last four years alone. ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... , ... May 23, 2016 , ... ... management solutions and services based in Aurora, Ohio, has broken ground on a ... in the Research Triangle Park area, this new location solidifies a commitment to ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... ... , ... Korean researchers say Manumycin A triggers apoptosis, or natural cell death, ... the disease. Surviving Mesothelioma has just posted an article on the new study. ... their mesothelioma study on the fact the Manumycin A, a derivative of Streptomyces parvulus, ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: