The Mariana Trench is the deepest known site in the Earth’s oceans, reaching a depth of over 11,000 meters at the Challenger Deep. Recent studies have revealed the trench waters host distinctive microbial planktonic communities. However, the genetic potential of microbial communities within this zone is poorly understood. Now, a study from researchers led by the University of East Anglia undertakes the most comprehensive analysis of microbial populations in the trench. The team states they have discovered a unique oil-eating bacteria in the Mariana Trench, where it is in the highest abundance of anywhere else on earth. The opensource study is published in the journal Microbiome.
Previous studies show the Mariana Trench is located in the Western Pacific Ocean and reaches a depth of approximately 11,000 meters. By comparison, Mount Everest is 8,848 meters high. To date, only a few expeditions have investigated the organisms inhabiting this ecosystem. The current study collects samples of the microbial population at the deepest part of the Mariana Trench, some 11,000 meters down, pulling up a new ‘oil-eating’ bacteria.
The current study performs extensive analysis of microbial populations and their genetic potential at different depths in the Mariana Trench. Results show an abrupt increase in the abundance of hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria at depths over 10,400 meters in the Challenger Deep. Data findings show the proportion of hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria found in the trench is the highest observed in any natural environment on Earth.
Results show the bacteria found were mainly Oleibacter, Thalassolituus, and Alcanivorax genera, all of which include species known to consume aliphatic hydrocarbons, which are the main constituent of aliphatic fuels including methane, acetylene, and liquefied natural gas. Data findings show the depth-related shift towards these hydrocarbon degraders is accompanied by increased abundance and transcription of genes involved in alkane degradation.
The team surmises they have identified alkane-degrading bacteria in the deepest part of the Mariana Trench at a proportion higher than observed anywhere else on Earth. For the future, the researchers state their study raises important questions that warrant further investigation in this unique environment.
Source: University of East Anglia
Get Healthinnovations delivered to your inbox:
Michelle Petersen is the founder of Healthinnovations, having worked in the health and science industry for over 21 years, which includes tenure within the NHS and Oxford University. Healthinnovations is a publication that has reported on, influenced, and researched current and future innovations in health for the past decade.
Michelle has been picked up as an expert writer for Informa publisher’s Clinical Trials community, as well as being listed as a blog source by the world’s leading medical journals, including the acclaimed Nature-Springer journal series.
Healthinnovations is currently indexed by the trusted Altmetric and PlumX metrics systems, respectively, as a blog source for published research globally. Healthinnovations is also featured in the world-renowned BioPortfolio, BioPortfolio.com, the life science, pharmaceutical and healthcare portal.
Most recently the Texas A&M University covered The Top 10 Healthinnovations series on their site with distinguished Professor Stephen Maren calling the inclusion of himself and his team on the list a reflection of “the hard work and dedication of my students and trainees”.
Michelle Petersen’s copy was used in the highly successful marketing campaign for the mega-hit film ‘Jumanji: The Next Level, starring Jack Black, Karen Gilian, Kevin Hart and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Michelle Petersen’s copywriting was part of the film’s coverage by the Republic TV network. Republic TV is the most-watched English language TV channel in India since its inception in 2017.
An avid campaigner in the fight against child sex abuse and trafficking, Michelle is a passionate humanist striving for a better quality of life for all humans by helping to provide traction for new technologies and techniques within healthcare.