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Microbes have adapted to living on food that is hundreds of years old

  deep ocean
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Microbial communities living in deep aquatic sediments have adapted to survive on degraded organic matter, according to a study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology and co-author of professors at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

"There are microbes that live in deep-sea sediments that eat carbon, like proteins and carbohydrates, it's hundreds of years old," said Andrew Steen, lead author of the study and associate professor of environmental geology at UT. "But we don't know much about how these microbes eat the poor quality old food."

Understanding how these microorganisms work on low quality foods at a very slow pace may have future uses in biomedical applications as a technology that can slow cell metabolism in human organs so that they can survive longer during a transplant process.

"It can also help preserve underground microbes that play a role in carbon sequestration, a key process in the fight against climate change," Steen said.

To better understand how these microorganisms gain access to this food, researchers tested different types of peptidases ̵

1; digestive enzymes that work to break down proteins – in sediment cores from the White Oak River estuary in North Carolina.

"These microbes live incredibly slow lives, with cells multiplying anywhere between every ten years and every ten years, but we're not sure about that," says Steen. "Our work shows that these microbes live the same way as everyone else microbes do, only more slowly and with some improved ability to eat low quality food in their environment. "

The data collected by the researchers represented about 275 years of sediment deposition from the White Oak River estuary. The microbes in these sediments and by measuring peptidases, scientists evaluated how these microorganisms metabolize with little access to fresh organic matter. and Delta systems. Stone's study provides insight into how these microbial communities in the soil begin is the process of breaking down organic carbon in such environments.

"Our study shows that in some respects microwaves in the surface are happy to be where they are – or at least they are well adapted to a terrible environment," Steen said.

For zombie microbes, deep-sea buffets are just out of reach

More information:
Andrew D. Steen et al., Kinetics and identities of extracellular peptidases in the subsurface sediment of the White Oak River Estuary, NC, Applied and Environmental Microbiology (2019). DOI: 10.1128 / AEM.00102-19

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University of Tennessee at Knoxville

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Microbes have adapted to live on food that is hundreds of years old (2019, August 13)
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