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Microbes have gotten used to living on centuries-old foods



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Microbial communities living in deep aquatic sediments have adapted to the survival of degraded organic substances, according to a study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology and co-authored by professors at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville ,

"There are microbes in deep-sea sediments that eat centuries-old carbon like proteins and carbohydrates," said Andrew Steen, lead author of the study and assistant professor of environmental geology at UT. "However, we do not know much about how these microbes consume these old, low-quality foods."

Understanding how these microorganisms act at very slow intervals on substandard foods could in the future be used in biomedical applications such as: • A technology that slows down cell metabolism in human organs and thus can survive longer during a transplant process.

"It could 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 access this food, The researchers tested various types of peptidases ̵

1; digestive enzymes that degrade proteins – in sediment cores from the mouth of the White Oak River in North Carolina.

These microbes live incredibly slowly, with cells multiplying every 10 to 10,000 years, but we're not sure how, "Steen said. "Our work shows that these microbes live just like all other microbes, only much slower and with an improved ability to eat inferior foods in their environment."

The data collected by the researchers represented approximately 275 years of sediment deposition at the mouth of the White Oak River. Using DNA analysis of the microbes in these sediments and measuring peptidases, researchers investigated how they metabolize microorganisms with little access to fresh organic material. About 40 percent of organic carbon is buried in estuaries and delta systems. Steen's study provides insight into how these subsurface microbial communities begin to degrade organic carbon in such environments.

"Our study shows that subsurface microbes are in some ways happy to be where they are – or at least they are well adapted to a dreadful environment," said Steen.


The deep-sea buffet is not within reach for zombie microbes


Further information:
Andrew D. Steen et al., Kinetics and Identity of Extracellular Peptidases in Underground Sediments of the White Oak River Estuary, NC, Applied and Environmental Microbiology (2019). DOI: 10.1128 / AEM.00102-19

Provided by
University of Tennessee in Knoxville




Quote :
Microbes have adapted to live on hundreds of years old food (2019, Aug 13)
retrieved on 13th August 2019
from https://phys.org/news/2019-08-microbes-food-hundreds-years.html

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