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Energy for archaea

Dec 11, 2018
Single-cell images of environmental marine ammonia oxidizing archaea. Panel (a) identifies the ammonia oxidizing archaea (green) and surrounding cells (blue), panel (b) reveals their uptake of cyanate. This can be determined with NanoSIMS, a technology th
Single-cell images of environmental marine ammonia oxidizing archaea. Panel (a) identifies the ammonia oxidizing archaea (green) and surrounding cells (blue), panel (b) reveals their uptake of cyanate. This can be determined with NanoSIMS, a technology that provides highly detailed insights into the activity of single cells. Ammonia oxidizing archaea are marked by white outlines. Scale bar is 1 micrometer. Photo: Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology/ K. Kitzinger

The ammonia oxidizing archaea belong to taxonomic group of the Thaumarchaeota and are among the most abundant marine microorganisms. Yet, we are still discovering which factors allow them to thrive in the ocean: A new publication reveals that marine Thaumarchaeota have a broader metabolism than previously thought. This study shows that they are able to use , next to ammonia, cyanate and urea as an additional energy source. Both are organic nitrogen compounds and quite common in the oceans. Researchers from the MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen were also involved in the study.

Original publication:

Katharina Kitzinger, Cory C. Padilla, Hannah K. Marchant, Philipp F. Hach, Craig W. Herbold, Abiel T. Kidane, Martin Könneke, Sten Littmann, Maria Mooshammer, Jutta Niggemann, Sandra Petrov, Andreas Richter, Frank J. Stewart, Michael Wagner, Marcel M. M. Kuypers, Laura A. Bristow: Cyanate and Urea are Substrates for Nitrification by Thaumarchaeota in the Marine Environment. Nature Microbiology, DOI: 10.1038/s41564-018-0316-2

 

Press Release Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology Bremen

Samples for this study were taken in den Gulf of Mexico. Photo: Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology/ K. Kitzinger
Samples for this study were taken in den Gulf of Mexico. Photo: Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology/ K. Kitzinger