OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

college of science

Environmental concerns increasing infectious disease in amphibians

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Climate change, habitat destruction, pollution and invasive species are all involved in the global crisis of amphibian declines and extinctions, researchers suggest in a new analysis, but increasingly these forces are causing actual mortality in the form of infectious disease.

Amphibians are now, and always have been hosts for a wide range of infectious organisms, including viruses, bacteria and fungi, scientists said in a review published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

But in recent decades, disease seems to have taken a more prominent role in causing mortality. Because of multiple stresses, many induced by humans, amphibians now succumb to diseases they may historically have been better able to resist or tolerate.

“There’s more and more evidence of the role of disease in the biodiversity crisis, in both amphibians and other types of animals,” said Andrew Blaustein, a distinguished professor of zoology at Oregon State University and author of the recent analysis.

“It’s normal for animals to deal with infectious organisms, often many of them simultaneously,” he said. “But in the face of pollution, a reduced immune response, climate change, evolving pathogens and many other stresses in such a short period of time, many species now simply can’t survive.”

The current extinction rates of amphibians - which existed even before dinosaurs roamed the Earth - may be more than 200 times the background rate of extinction, the scientists note in this report. From an evolutionary perspective, amphibians that survived for hundreds of millions of years may be undergoing a major extinction event.

Because they have both terrestrial and aquatic life stages amphibians are exposed to various environmental forces more than some other animals, scientists say, and a higher percentage of them are threatened with extinction than are birds or mammals. However, similar concerns may become apparent in many animal species, including humans, as environmental changes and stresses grow, they said.

Among the observations in this report:

  • Infectious disease around the world is increasing at an unprecedented rate.
  • Natural stresses such as competition and predation have been joined by human-induced stresses, ranging from pollution to global warming.
  • These forces can reduce immune competence in amphibians, even as climate change, invasive species and other factors increase pathogen spread, persistence, growth and mortality.
  • Some amphibians deal with stress by hormonal changes such as increased production of glucocorticoids, but on a sustained basis, that approach can further suppress their immune system.
  • Warmer winters and night-time temperatures may reduce the cycle of pathogen die-offs that would naturally occur in colder regions.

These forces are complex, the researchers noted. The effects of climate change on amphibian disease, for instance, my cause some pathogens to increase in prevalence and severity, while others decline.

Understanding the driving forces behind these changes, the scientists said, will be important not only to address amphibian declines but also to deal with emerging infections in many other plants and animals, including humans. Such impacts can affect wildlife conservation, economic growth and human health.

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Deformed leopard frog

Deformed frog

Increase in RDA for vitamin C could help reduce heart disease, stroke, cancer

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, of vitamin C is less than half what it should be, scientists argue in a recent report, because medical experts insist on evaluating this natural, but critical nutrient in the same way they do pharmaceutical drugs and reach faulty conclusions as a result.

The researchers, in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, say there’s compelling evidence that the RDA of vitamin C should be raised to 200 milligrams per day for adults, up from its current levels in the United States of 75 milligrams for women and 90 for men.

Rather than just prevent the vitamin C deficiency disease of scurvy, they say, it’s appropriate to seek optimum levels that will saturate cells and tissues, pose no risk, and may have significant effects on public health at almost no expense – about a penny a day if taken as a dietary supplement.

“It’s time to bring some common sense to this issue, look at the totality of the scientific evidence, and go beyond some clinical trials that are inherently flawed,” said Balz Frei, professor and director of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, and one of the world’s leading experts on the role of vitamin C in optimum health.

“Significant numbers of people in the U.S. and around the world are deficient in vitamin C, and there’s growing evidence that more of this vitamin could help prevent chronic disease,” Frei said. “The way clinical researchers study micronutrients right now, with the same type of so-called ‘phase three randomized placebo-controlled trials’ used to test pharmaceutical drugs, almost ensures they will find no beneficial effect. We need to get past that.”

Unlike testing the safety or function of a prescription drug, the researchers said, such trials are ill suited to demonstrate the disease prevention capabilities of substances that are already present in the human body and required for normal metabolism. Some benefits of micronutrients in lowering chronic disease risk also show up only after many years or even decades of optimal consumption of vitamin C – a factor often not captured in shorter-term clinical studies.

A wider body of metabolic, pharmacokinetic, laboratory and demographic studies suggests just the opposite, that higher levels of vitamin C could help reduce the chronic diseases that today kill most people in the developed world – heart disease, stroke, cancer, and the underlying issues that lead to them, such as high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, poor immune response and atherosclerosis.

“We believe solid research shows the RDA should be increased,” Frei said. “And the benefit-to-risk ratio is very high. A 200 milligram intake of vitamin C on a daily basis poses absolutely no risk, but there is strong evidence it would provide multiple, substantial health benefits.”

An excellent diet with the recommended five to nine daily servings of fruits and raw or steam-cooked vegetables, together with a six-ounce glass of orange juice, could provide 200 milligrams of vitamin C a day. But most Americans and people around the world do not have an excellent diet.

Even at the current low RDAs, various studies in the U.S. and Canada have found that about a quarter to a third of people are marginally deficient in vitamin C, and up to 20 percent in some populations are severely deficient – including college students, who often have less-than-perfect diets. Smokers and older adults are also at significant risk.

Even marginal deficiency can lead to malaise, fatigue, and lethargy, researchers note. Healthier levels of vitamin C can enhance immune function, reduce inflammatory conditions such as atherosclerosis, and significantly lower blood pressure.

  • A recent analysis of 29 human studies concluded that daily supplements of 500 milligrams of vitamin C significantly reduced blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and directly attributes to an estimated 400,000 deaths annually in the U.S.
  • A study in Europe of almost 20,000 men and women found that mortality from cardiovascular disease was 60 percent lower when comparing the blood plasma concentration of vitamin C in the highest 20 percent of people to the lowest 20 percent.
  • Another research effort found that men with the lowest serum vitamin C levels had a 62 percent higher risk of cancer-related death after a 12-16 year period, compared to those with the highest vitamin C levels.

Laboratory studies with animals – which may be more accurate than human studies because they can be done in controlled conditions and with animals of identical genetic makeup - can document reasons that could explain all of these findings, Frei said.

Critics have suggested that some of these differences are simply due to better overall diet, not vitamin C levels, but the scientists noted in this report that some health benefits correlate even more strongly to vitamin C plasma levels than fruit and vegetable consumption.

Scientists in France and Denmark collaborated on this report. Research at OSU on these issues has been supported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

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Fresh fruit

Fresh fruit

Viruses linked to algae that control coral health

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Scientists have discovered two viruses that appear to infect the single-celled microalgae that reside in corals and are important for coral growth and health, and they say the viruses could play a role in the serious decline of coral ecosystems around the world.

These viruses, including an RNA virus never before isolated from a coral, have been shown for the first time to clearly be associated with these microalgae called Symbiodinium. If it’s proven that they are infecting those algae and causing disease, it will be another step toward understanding the multiple threats that coral reefs are facing.

The research was published today in the ISME Journal, in work supported by the National Science Foundation.

“We’re way behind in our knowledge of how viral disease may affect coral health,” said Adrienne Correa, a researcher with the Department of Microbiology at Oregon State University. “If viral infection is causing some bleaching, it could be important in the death of corals and contribute to reef decline. This potential threat from viruses is just starting to be recognized.”

Corals co-exist with these algae in a symbiotic relationship, scientists say, in which the algae provide energy to the coral, and contribute to the construction of reefs. The coral in turn offers a place for the algae to live and provides nutrients for it.

Corals and viruses have evolved along with their resident algae for millions of years. They have persisted through previous climate oscillations, and the presence of viruses within corals or their algae doesn’t necessarily indicate they are affecting coral colony health. If viruses are causing disease or bleaching of colonies, it’s also unknown whether this is happening now more than in the past.

“Corals are known to face various environmental threats, such a warming temperatures, competition and pollution,” Correa said. “Some of the environmental changes of the past were likely more gradual and allowed the coral and its associates more time to adapt.

“The stresses challenging coral reefs now are more intense and frequent,” she said. “This may mean viruses cause more problems for corals and their algae now than they did historically.”

In continued research at OSU, scientists will inoculate Symbiodinium with the viruses and try to prove they are causing actual disease. If the viruses are killing the algae, scientists said, it could have significant implications for coral reef health and survival. There are almost two dozen known diseases that are affecting coral, and scientists still do not know the cause of most of them.

Coral abundance has declined about 80 percent in the Caribbean Sea in the past 30-40 years, and about one-third of all corals around the world are threatened with extinction.

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Bleached coral

Bleached coral

New compound could become “cool blue” for energy efficiency in buildings

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new type of durable, environmentally-benign blue pigment discovered at Oregon State University has also been found to have unusual characteristics in reflecting heat – it’s a “cool blue” compound that could become important in new approaches to saving energy in buildings.

The compound, which has now received patent approval, was discovered about three years ago almost by chance, as OSU scientists were studying some materials for their electrical properties.

Its potential use to help reduce heat absorption on the roofs and walls of buildings – which is an evolving field of considerable interest in warm regions where cooling is a major expense – adds another role for the material, which is now being considered for various commercial applications.

“This pigment has infrared heat reflectivity of about 40 percent, which is significantly higher than most blue pigments now being used,” said Mas Subramanian, an OSU professor of chemistry who discovered the compound.

“The more we discover about the pigment, the more interesting it gets,” Subramanian said. “We already knew it had advantages of being more durable, safe and fairly easy to produce. Now it also appears to be a new candidate for energy efficiency.”

“Cool roofing,” in which paints are used to reflect significant portions of the sun’s heat and thereby reduce cooling costs, is an important new trend in “green” construction and energy efficiency, experts say. Such reflective coatings also are more aesthetically pleasing, have less thermal degradation, reduce the “heat island” effect in cities, lower peak energy demand, and reduce air pollution due to lower energy use and power plant emissions.

“We’re seeking licensing partners for this invention right now,” said Mary Phillips, associate director of the Office for Commercialization and Corporate Development at OSU. “We believe it can contribute to new energy efficiency solutions around the world.”

In general, any darker color of the type often used for roofs, houses, automobiles or other applications will tend to absorb more heat. But some compounds, like the one discovered at OSU, have dark tones but also the ability to reflect heat in the infrared spectrum, which is responsible for most of the heat energy absorbed from sunlight.

The material created at OSU, researchers say, is probably the best blue pigment humans have produced since ancient times – going back to efforts by the Egyptians, the Han dynasty in China and Mayan cultures. Blue pigments have been sought through history but often had serious drawbacks, such as decaying quickly, being toxic, costly or carcinogenic.

In research funded by the National Science Foundation, OSU scientists discovered this material by coincidence while they were looking for something else.

Some manganese compounds came out of a 2,000 degree Fahrenheit oven transformed into a beautiful blue, which researchers later determined was due to an unusual “trigonal bipyramidal coordination” of their molecules that changed when exposed to extreme heat.

Research will continue at OSU on the heat reflectance capabilities of the new compound and the underlying molecular structure responsible for it, scientists said.

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Mas Subramanian, 541-737-8235

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Pigment discovery

Crystalline structure

Jurassic pain: Giant “flea-like” insects plagued dinosaurs

CORVALLIS, Ore. – It takes a gutsy insect to sneak up on a dinosaur while it sleeps, crawl onto its soft underbelly and give it a bite that would feel like a needle going in – but giant “flea-like” animals, possibly the oldest of their type ever discovered, did just that.

And a few actually lived through the experience, based on the discovery of remarkable fossils of these creatures, just announced in Current Biology, a professional journal.

These flea-like animals, similar but not identical to modern fleas, were probably 10 times the size of a flea you might find crawling on the family dog – with an extra-painful bite to match.  

“These were insects much larger than modern fleas and from the size of their proboscis we can tell they would have been mean,” said George Poinar, Jr., a professor emeritus of zoology at Oregon State University.

“You wouldn’t talk much about the good old days if you got bit by this insect,” Poinar said. “It would have felt about like a hypodermic needle going in – a flea shot, if not a flu shot. We can be thankful our modern fleas are not nearly this big.”

Poinar, an international expert in ancient and extinct insect life forms, said it’s possible that the soft-bodied, flea-like insects found in these fossils from Inner Mongolia are the evolutionary ancestors of modern fleas, but most likely they belong to a separate and now extinct lineage.

Called Pseudopulex jurassicus and Pseudopulex magnus, they had bodies that were more flat, like a bedbug or tick, and long claws that could reach over scales on the skin of dinosaurs so they could hold onto them tightly while sucking blood. Modern fleas are more laterally compressed and have shorter antennae, and are able to move quickly through the fur or feathers of their victims.

“These are really well-preserved fossils that give us another glimpse of life into the really distant past, the Cretaceous and Jurassic,” said Poinar, who has also studied “younger” fleas from 40-50 million years ago preserved in amber.

All true fleas are adapted to feeding on warm-blooded vertebrates, Poinar said, and today 94 percent of the 2,300 known species attack mammals, while the remainder feed on birds. But the unusual characteristics and abilities of the flea-like animals found in these fossils lead scientists to believe their prey were some of the biggest kids on the block – dinosaurs in which they could have fed on the softer skin between scales.

Modern fleas, the report noted, have done plenty of damage. Hardly a dog or cat alive has escaped their attack, and they brought mankind such diseases as bubonic plague, which has killed 75 million people.

But their bite itself, at least, didn’t feel like a needle going in, by an insect that wasn’t even afraid of a dinosaur.

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George Poinar, Jr., 541-737-5366

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Ancient insect

Flea-like insect

Nanotube technology leading to fast, lower-cost medical diagnostics

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers at Oregon State University have tapped into the extraordinary power of carbon “nanotubes” to increase the speed of biological sensors, a technology that might one day allow a doctor to routinely perform lab tests in minutes, speeding diagnosis and treatment while reducing costs.

The new findings have almost tripled the speed of prototype nano-biosensors, and should find applications not only in medicine but in toxicology, environmental monitoring, new drug development and other fields.

The research was just reported in Lab on a Chip, a professional journal. More refinements are necessary before the systems are ready for commercial production, scientists say, but they hold great potential.

“With these types of sensors, it should be possible to do many medical lab tests in minutes, allowing the doctor to make a diagnosis during a single office visit,” said Ethan Minot, an OSU assistant professor of physics. “Many existing tests take days, cost quite a bit and require trained laboratory technicians.

“This approach should accomplish the same thing with a hand-held sensor, and might cut the cost of an existing $50 lab test to about $1,” he said.

The key to the new technology, the researchers say, is the unusual capability of carbon nanotubes. An outgrowth of nanotechnology, which deals with extraordinarily small particles near the molecular level, these nanotubes are long, hollow structures that have unique mechanical, optical and electronic properties, and are finding many applications.

In this case, carbon nanotubes can be used to detect a protein on the surface of a sensor. The nanotubes change their electrical resistance when a protein lands on them, and the extent of this change can be measured to determine the presence of a particular protein – such as serum and ductal protein biomarkers that may be indicators of breast cancer.

The newest advance was the creation of a way to keep proteins from sticking to other surfaces, like fluid sticking to the wall of a pipe. By finding a way to essentially “grease the pipe,” OSU researchers were able to speed the sensing process by 2.5 times.

Further work is needed to improve the selective binding of proteins, the scientists said, before it is ready to develop into commercial biosensors.

“Electronic detection of blood-borne biomarker proteins offers the exciting possibility of point-of-care medical diagnostics,” the researchers wrote in their study. “Ideally such electronic biosensor devices would be low-cost and would quantify multiple biomarkers within a few minutes.”

This work was a collaboration of researchers in the OSU Department of Physics, Department of Chemistry, and the University of California at Santa Barbara. A co-author was Vincent Remcho, professor and interim dean of the OSU College of Science, and a national expert in new biosensing technology.

The research was supported by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory through the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute.

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Ethan Minot, 541-737-9671

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Nanotube sensor

Nanotube sensor

Corvallis Science Pub to focus on biofuels

CORVALLIS, Ore. – In the search for new local energy sources, a young Corvallis company is betting on two of the Willamette Valley’s most abundant crops – wheat and ryegrass.

At the March 12 Corvallis Science Pub, Chris Beatty, president of Trillium FiberFuels, and Vince Remcho, an Oregon State University chemist, will discuss Trillium’s collaboration with OSU to develop ethanol and other products from agricultural waste products.

The program will begin at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 12, at the Old World Deli, 341 Second St. in Corvallis. It is free and open to the public.

According to the Renewable Fuels Association, the nation produced more than 13 billion gallons of ethanol in 2010, mostly from corn. The 2007 federal energy act set a national target of 36 billion gallons by 2022. Much of the gap is expected to be filled by ethanol from cellulose.

Yeast is typically used to ferment biomass sugars into ethanol. One challenge is that xylose, the second most common sugar, does not ferment. Trillium’s technology uses an enzyme to convert xylose to a form that yeast can ferment.

In their presentation, Beatty and Remcho will discuss the potential for this technology to expand the nation's biofuel industry. In addition, they will outline “some interesting opportunities in the biomass sugar world that have emerged during Trillium's journey,” Beatty said.

Sponsors of Science Pub include Terra magazine at OSU, the Downtown Corvallis Association and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

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Vince Remcho, 541-737-8181

OSU graduate student receives outreach teaching award

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Sarah Eddy, a graduate student at Oregon State University, is one of only eight students in the nation to receive the K. Patricia Cross Award.

The award, presented by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, is given to people who display leadership in teaching, civic engagement, and improving the campus culture around teaching.

Although majoring in zoology, Eddy also researched effective teaching practices for the science classroom. She designed and taught three graduate level seminars on science pedagogy and developing outreach activities. She co-founded Broader Impacts and Outreach by Graduate Students, or BIO-GradS, a group that provides workshops to help high school students learn about biology.

“This work is important and really rewarding,” Eddy said. “We don’t always convey the exciting parts of biology that can make students more driven to learn. You have to show what you can actually do with learning.”

In continuing work, Eddy hopes to identify, through large scale classroom experiments, science teaching methods and curriculum that increase retention and learning of at-risk students.

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Sarah Eddy

Sarah Eddy

The power of estrogen – male snakes attract other males

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study has shown that boosting the estrogen levels of male garter snakes causes them to secrete the same pheromones that females use to attract suitors, and turned the males into just about the sexiest snake in the neighborhood – attracting dozens of other males eager to mate.

This experiment in the famed garter snake caverns of Manitoba, Canada, was one of the first in a field setting to ever quantify the effects of estrogen as a stimulant of pheromones, scientists said, in research just published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

This estrogen, they said, is the same exact chemical found in many animal species, ranging from snakes to amphibians, fish, mammals and humans. The research confirms once again the unusually powerful role that estrogen can play in biology, and is also relevant to widespread concern about the environmental impact of compounds that mimic the effect of estrogen, found in some chemicals and pesticides.

In this study, male snakes were implanted with a small capsule that raised their estrogen level to about that of female snakes. After one year of this estrogen supplementation, the male snakes exuded a pheromone that caused other males to swarm to them and form the writhing “mating balls” that this species of garter snake is known for.

And just as the pheromone production could be stimulated, it could be taken away, the scientists found. When the supplementation was removed for a year, the males reverted to normal function and behavior.

“We thought this might work, but we we’re surprised the results were so compelling,” said Robert Mason, a professor of zoology and one of the world’s leading experts on reptilian pheromones. “The amount of estrogen the male snakes received was nothing unusual, just about what a normal female would produce.

“And this was not just some laboratory test,” he said. “These snakes were trying to mate in a natural outdoor environment, in which the males were absolutely sure they had identified a female snake.”

The red-sided garter snake studied in this research depends totally upon pheromones for males to be attracted to and identify female snakes, by actually licking the female with a quick flick of their tongue. But the chemical cues are so extraordinary that in an instant, from one lick, the male can determine the species, sex, population, season, reproductive condition, size and age of its possible partner.

Pheromones are chemical cues that can provide a range of information, and often play a critical role in sexual attraction and reproduction. Snakes are a good model for studying them, Mason said, because they are totally dependent upon them for reproduction.

In garter snakes, the experiments showed just how powerful the mechanism is. Large and older females, preferred by male snakes because they can produce more babies, also have a slightly different chemical signature in their pheromone. Young, small, females can still attract suitors, but not as readily.

When male snakes had their estrogen levels elevated, their pheromone production was so strong that other male snakes actually preferred them to small female snakes.

Snakes use a “vomeronasal” organ in the upper palate of their mouth that plays a key role in this sensing process. Other animals, such as dogs, also have keen vomeronasal sensing abilities. Humans still have this organ, but it’s unclear what role, if any, it plays in human sensory ability, Mason said.

The area where this research was done is a natural wonder, many scientists say, attracting hordes of tourists. Each spring, tens of thousands of snakes emerge from limestone caves north of Manitoba, Canada, in an intense competition to mate. Female snakes are swarmed as they emerge from the caves by multiple males that form large, twisting balls, attempting to be the first to mate with the female.

After that, a different pheromone is emitted which confirms the mating has been accomplished, and the other males lose interest and leave.

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

 

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Robert Mason, 541-737-4107

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Male garter snake
Testing for pheromones


Mating ball

Mating ball

Garter snake video: http://bit.ly/wNOIl8

Ocean microbes changing, but environmental impact is unclear

CORVALLIS, Ore. – As oceans warm due to climate change, water layers will mix less and affect the microbes and plankton that pump carbon out of the atmosphere – but researchers say it’s still unclear whether these processes will further increase global warming or decrease it.

The forces at work are enormous and the stakes huge, said Oregon State University scientists in an article to be published Friday in the journal Science. But inadequate ocean monitoring and lack of agreement on how to assess microbial diversity has made it difficult to reach a consensus on what the future may hold, they said.

“We’re just beginning to understand microbial diversity in the oceans and what that may mean to the environment,” said Stephen Giovannoni, an OSU professor of microbiology. “However, a large portion of the carbon emitted from human activities ends up in the oceans, which with both their mass of water and biological processes act as a huge buffer against climate change. These are extremely important issues.”

The interest is growing, scientists say, because nearly half of the world’s photosynthesis is contributed by microbial plankton, and the process of marine carbon production and consumption is much faster than on land. A turnover of terrestrial plant biomass takes 15 years, they say, while marine turnover takes just six days.

As the ocean surface warms, evidence shows that it will become more “stratified,” or confined to layers that mix less than they did in the past. This should reduce overall ocean productivity, Giovannoni said, but so little is known about the effect on ocean microbes that the implication for carbon sequestration and global warming is less clear.

Some OSU research on routine seasonal changes of microbes in the Sargasso Sea of the Atlantic Ocean suggests that different and specialized microbial communities can become more dominant when water warms.

As warmer oceans become a more long-term and global phenomenon, researchers need to know more about these microbes, and whether their behavior will amplify or reduce atmospheric carbon and the greenhouse effect.

It could be either, Giovannoni said.

“Some warming of surface waters may reduce carbon sequestration, which could cause a feedback loop to increase global warming,” Giovannoni said.

“Other forces, what we call the microbial carbon pump, could cause carbon to sink into the deep ocean and be segregated from the atmosphere for thousands of years,” he said. “We know both of these processes exist, but which one will become dominant is unpredictable, because we know so little about ocean microbes.”

It was only two decades ago that OSU scientists discovered SAR11, an ocean microbe and the smallest free-living cell known, but one that’s now understood to dominate life in the oceans, thrives where most other cells would die and plays a huge role in carbon cycling on Earth.

Microbial action also surprised scientists just recently, Giovannoni noted, when specific microbe populations surged following the Gulf Coast oil spill and cleaned up much of the oil faster than many thought possible. And some plans to “fertilize” the ocean and sequester atmospheric carbon through marine phytoplankton growth have been put on hold, he said, because it just isn’t certain what would happen.

To reduce that uncertainty, Giovannoni advocates more aggressive development and implementation of marine microbial monitoring technology around the world, to add to what scientists can already learn from study of satellite images. And the field is so new, he said, that many researchers are not even comparing the same types of data or standardizing the tools they use to assess microbial diversity – a problem that needs to be addressed.

Dramatic advances in DNA sequencing in recent years, Giovannoni said, should also help researchers unravel the ocean microbe mystery.

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Stephen Giovannoni, 541-737-1835