A new clue to the exceptional productivity of Mediterranean seagrass meadows comes from discovery of an intimate symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. The importance of seagrasses. Different species of seagrass are found growing on sediments in shallow coastal and estuarine waters throughout the world. These flowering plants can form dense meadows which have a special ecological role … Continue reading Secrets of seagrass success
It is estimated that there are around 10^31 viruses in the world’s oceans accounting for ~94% of all biological entities (nucleic acid containing particles). Despite their small size, the amount of carbon they contain is estimated to be the equivalent of 75 million blue whales. This post highlights some recent findings about the role of … Continue reading Shunt, shuttle and link: how viruses provide a food source for marine life
As in other microbes with extensive genetic diversity, the concept of a “species” of virus is problematic. The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) provides a formal definition of a viral species as a monophyletic group whose properties can be distinguished from those of other species by multiple criteria. Surprisingly, viral nomenclature does not … Continue reading What’s in a name? The confusing world of virus taxonomy
New research reports raise hopes that assisted evolution of coral holobionts may help protect them from bleaching due to global warming. Many corals depend on photosynthetic symbionts. It’s been known for almost 140 years that many corals harbour symbiotic microbes known colloquially as zooxanthellae within their tissues. Although corals possess tentacles and stinging cells that … Continue reading Symbionts and the survival of corals
Most methane is produced by anaerobic Archaea. The formation and fate of methane has been the study of intensive research over several decades, because of its great importance in aquatic, terrestrial and atmospheric processes. Methane has a global warming potential ~28 times that of CO2 over 100 years. Until recently, methanogenesis was thought to be … Continue reading A shifting paradigm – Archaea aren’t the only organisms that produce methane
Exceptional diversity of chemosynthetic endosymbionts. Many deep-sea investigations have revealed the presence of dense colonies of large mussels belonging to the genus Bathymodiolus attached to rocks in the vicinity of hydrothermal vents and cold seeps. The gills of these mussels contain chemosynthetic bacterial symbionts within their cells. These endosymbionts use reduced inorganic compounds as a … Continue reading New insights into symbiont diversity in deep sea mussels
Viruses belonging to the Morbillivirus genus (in the Paramyxoviridae family of enveloped negative-sense RNA viruses) have been recognized as significant causes of disease in cetaceans and pinnipeds for several decades. Morbillivirus species are also responsible for measles in humans, distemper in dogs and Rinderpest in cattle. In all cases, infection usually leads to either rapid … Continue reading Will declining sea ice lead to the spread of marine mammal diseases?