Tagged: Marine Microbiology Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 2:09 pm on January 14, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hydrothermal Microbes Can Be Green Energy Producers", , At deep-sea vents near the Mariana Arc highly concentrated slurries of minerals are released from the vents; mix with seawater and encourage the growth of microbes., , Marine Microbiology, Organic compounds can form from inorganic materials releasing energy along the way., The reducing environment can support organisms that actually release energy when they form.   

    From Eos: “Hydrothermal Microbes Can Be Green Energy Producers” 

    From AGU
    Eos news bloc

    From Eos

    7 January 2022
    Sarah Derouin

    In ultramafic, reducing environments, forming microbial proteins can actually release energy.

    At deep-sea vents like this one in the western Pacific near the Mariana Arc, highly concentrated slurries of minerals are released from the vents, mix with seawater, and encourage the growth of microbes. In some cases, the reducing environment can support organisms that actually release energy when they form, instead of requiring it. Credit: Pacific Ring of Fire 2004 Expedition,The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US) Office of Ocean Exploration; Dr. Bob Embley, Chief Scientist The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US) NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL).CC BY 2.0.

    The deep-sea neighborhoods around hydrothermal hot spots are a party of productivity, especially compared to the majority of the seafloor. The heat, minerals, dissolved gases, and pressures found in these hot spots provide rich environments in which microbial communities can thrive.

    In these harsh conditions with swirling chemicals, organic compounds can form from inorganic materials, releasing energy along the way, which is the opposite of more familiar conditions on Earth’s surface, in which energy is consumed to form organic materials. Bacteria gain energy by reducing carbon dioxide with hydrogen to make methane and water—a process called autotrophic methanogenesis.

    In a new study by Dick and Shock, the researchers looked into where else energy might be released in ultramafic, hydrothermal ecosystems and what that might mean for life in these complex biogeochemical environments. They looked at hydrothermal vents in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (the vent field called Rainbow that is hosted in ultramafic rocks) and a vent on the Juan de Fuca boundary in the Pacific (a basalt-hosted vent field called Endeavour).

    The Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Credit: NOAA.

    Subduction of the Juan de Fuca Plate beneath the North American Plate. Credit: Geological Survey (US)

    The researchers looked at nearly 1,800 proteins for Methanocaldococcus jannaschii, a member of the Archaea found in hydrothermal vents, and parsed out autotrophic methanogenesis reactions and overall amino acid synthesis reactions in both vent locations.

    They found that methanogenesis was driven by the large disequilibrium of chemicals that result from the mixing of hydrothermal fluids and seawater. The team discovered that in ultramafic systems, energy is released in protein synthesis over a wide range of temperatures. However, the same was not found for basalt-hosted vents, where temperature ranges were smaller for methanogenesis and protein synthesis doesn’t release energy.

    Considering these findings, the researchers note that particular hydrothermal systems are hot spots for microbial proliferation. They note that in highly reduced systems, the way proteins are synthesized and energy is released can tell researchers much about how biogeochemical cycles could have driven the emergence of life in the deep sea.

    Science paper:
    Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Eos is the leading source for trustworthy news and perspectives about the Earth and space sciences and their impact. Its namesake is Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, who represents the light shed on understanding our planet and its environment in space by the Earth and space sciences.

  • richardmitnick 9:32 pm on January 6, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Microbes produce oxygen in the dark", , , , Marine Microbiology, , The ocean living microbe "Nitrosopumilus maritimus", The South Danish University [Syddansk Universitet](DK)   

    From The University of Southern Denmark[Syddansk Universitet](DK): “Microbes produce oxygen in the dark” 

    From The University of Southern Denmark [Syddansk Universitet](DK)

    Birgitte Svennevig

    There would be no oxygen on Earth were it not for sunlight; the key component in photosynthesis. Now researchers have made the surprising discovery that oxygen is also produced without sunlight, possibly deep below the ocean surface.

    Beate Kraft, biologist, The University of Southern Denmark. Credit: Jacob Fredegaard Hansen, The University of Southern Denmark.

    There is more going on in the deep, dark ocean waters than you may think: Uncountable numbers of invisible microorganisms go about their daily lives in the water columns, and now researchers have discovered that some of them produce oxygen in an unexpected way.

    Oxygen is vital for life on Earth, and is mainly produced by plants, algae and cyanobacteria via photosynthesis. A few microbes are known to make oxygen without sunlight, but so far, they have only been discovered in very limited quantities and in very specific habitats.

    Enter the ocean living microbe Nitrosopumilus maritimus and its cousins, called ammonia oxidizing archaea.

    Ghost organisms hanging out in the dark

    These guys are really abundant in the oceans, where they play an important role in the nitrogen cycle. For this they need oxygen, so it has been a longstanding puzzle why they are also very abundant in waters where there is no oxygen, says biologist Beate Kraft, adding:

    We thought; Do they just hang out there with no function; Are they some kind of ghost cells?

    But there was something puzzling to this;

    These microbes are so common, that every 5th cell in a bucket of sea water is one of them, adds Don Canfield, co-author of the paper.

    The researchers became curious; could they have a function in the oxygen depleted water after all?

    They make their own oxygen

    Beate Kraft and her research team studying water samples, The South Danish University. Credit: Jacob Fredegaard Hansen/The South Danish University.

    Beate Kraft decided to test them in the lab;

    We wanted to see what would happen if they ran out of oxygen – like they do when they move from the oxygen rich waters to oxygen depleted waters. Would they survive?

    We saw how they used up all the oxygen in the water, and then to our surprise, within minutes, oxygen levels started increasing again. That was very exciting, Don Canfield recalls.

    Enough for me and my friends

    Nitrosopumilus maritimus turned out to be able to make oxygen in a dark environment. Not much – not at all so much that it would influence oxygen levels on Earth, but enough to keep itself going.

    If they produce a little more oxygen than they need themselves, it will quickly be taken by other organisms in their neighborhood, so this oxygen would never leave the ocean, Beate Kraft explains.

    The nitrogen cycle:

    Nitrogen gets washed out into the ocean where it ends up as ammonium – Nitrosopumilus maritimus and its cousins oxidize ammonium to nitrite – other microbes convert nitrite to gaseous nitrogen – cycle closed.

    But what effect do they have on the environment they live in, these extremely abundant oxygen-producing microbes?

    Researchers already knew that the ammonia oxidizing archaea are microorganisms, that keep the global nitrogen cycle going, but they were not aware of the full extent of their capabilities.

    In the newly discovered pathway, Nitrosopumilus maritimus couples the oxygen production to the production of gasous nitrogen. By doing so they remove bioavailable nitrogen from the environment.

    If this lifestyle is widespread in the oceans, it certainly forces us to rethink our current understanding of the marine nitrogen cycle, adds Beate Kraft.

    My next step is to investigate the phenomenon we saw in our lab cultures in oxygen depleted waters in various ocean spots around the world, she adds.

    Her research team has already taken samples in Mariager Fjord in Denmark, and next stop is the waters off Mexico and Costa Rica.

    Science paper:

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Southern Denmark [Syddansk Universitet](DK) is a university in Denmark that has campuses located in Southern Denmark and on Zealand.

    The university offers a number of joint programmes in co-operation with the Europe University of Flensburg [Universität Flensburg](DE) and the Christian-Albrecht University of Kiel [Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel](DE). Contacts with regional industries and the international scientific community are strong.

    With its 29,674 enrolled students (as of 2016), the university is both the third-largest and, given its roots in Odense University, the third-oldest Danish university (fourth if one includes the Technical University of Denmark). Since the introduction of the ranking systems in 2012, the South Danish University has consistently been ranked as one of the top 50 young universities in the world by both the Times Higher Education World University Rankings of the Top 100 Universities Under 50 and the QS World University Rankings of the Top 50 Universities Under 50.

    The South Danish University was established in 1998 when Odense University, the Southern Denmark School of Business and Engineering and the South Jutland University Centre were merged. The University Library of Southern Denmark was also merged with the university in 1998. As the original Odense University was established in 1966, the South Danish University celebrated their 50-year anniversary on September 15, 2016.

    In 2006, the Odense University College of Engineering was merged into the university and renamed as the Faculty of Engineering. After being located in different parts of Odense for several years, a brand new Faculty of Engineering building physically connected to the main Odense Campus was established and opened in 2015. In 2007, the Business School Centre in Slagelse (Handelshøjskolecentret Slagelse) and the National Institute of Public Health (Statens Institut for Folkesundhed) were also merged into the South Danish University.

  • richardmitnick 12:45 pm on December 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Study-'Photosynthetic' Algae Can Survive the Dark", , , Coccolithophores also play an important role in mitigating ocean acidity which can negatively affect organisms like shellfish and corals., Coccolithophores are integral to processes that control the global ocean and atmosphere including the carbon cycle., Coccolithophores like most algae are photosynthetic. However the aftermath of the asteroid impact was thought to have blanketed the planet with a darkness death sentence., , Marine Microbiology, More than 66 million years ago an asteroid impact led to the extinction of almost three-quarters of life on Earth., , Osmotrophy, Scientists at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences discovered how some species of single-celled algae lived through the mass extinction., Some coccolithophore species could use previously unrecognized organic compounds as carbon sources instead of carbon dioxide., The Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences (US), The researchers next want to perform ocean experiments to observe how coccolithophores take in nutrients in their natural environment-especially in the dark., The study showed that some coccolithophores could survive without light.   

    From The Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences (US) : “Study-‘Photosynthetic’ Algae Can Survive the Dark” 

    From The Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences (US)

    December 15, 2021


    Words in mOcean. https://wordsinmocean.com/2013/03/20/chalk-talk-coccolithophores/

    More than 66 million years ago an asteroid impact led to the extinction of almost three-quarters of life on Earth. The little life that was left had to struggle, and research into its tenacity can provide key insights into how organisms survive environmental challenges. In a new study [New Phytologist], scientists at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences discovered how some species of single-celled algae lived through the mass extinction, a finding that could change how we understand global ocean processes.

    Coccolithophores like most algae are photosynthetic and utilize the sun’s energy to make food. However the aftermath of the asteroid impact was thought to have blanketed the planet with several months of darkness a death sentence for most of the world’s photosynthetic organisms. In combination with other fallout effects, this caused the extinction of more than 90 percent of all coccolithophore species, some of the most influential organisms in the ocean. However, others endured.

    As part of the new study, the team conducted laboratory experiments that showed some coccolithophores could survive without light. This revealed that the organisms must have another way to produce the energy and carbon that they need.

    “We’ve been stuck on a paradigm that algae are just photosynthetic organisms, and for a long time their capability to otherwise feed was disregarded,” said Jelena Godrijan, the paper’s first author, who conducted the research as a postdoctoral scientist at Bigelow Laboratory. “Getting the coccolithophores to grow and survive in the dark is amazing to me, especially if you think about how they managed to survive when animals like the dinosaurs didn’t.”

    The study revealed how some coccolithophore species could use previously unrecognized organic compounds as carbon sources instead of carbon dioxide, which is what plants usually use. They can process dissolved organic compounds and immediately utilize them in a process called osmotrophy. The findings may explain how these organisms survive in dark conditions, such as after the asteroid impact, or deep in the ocean beneath where sunlight can reach.

    The research was published in the journal New Phytologist and co-authored by two other researchers at Bigelow Laboratory, Senior Research Scientist William Balch and Senior Research Associate David Drapeau. It has far-reaching implications for life in the ocean.

    Coccolithophores are integral to processes that control the global ocean and atmosphere including the carbon cycle. They take in dissolved carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which gets transported to the ocean floor when they die.

    “That’s hugely important to the distribution of carbon dioxide on Earth,” said Balch. “If we didn’t have this biological carbon pump, the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere would be way higher than it is now, probably over two times as much.”

    Coccolithophores also play an important role in mitigating ocean acidity which can negatively affect organisms like shellfish and corals. The single-celled algae remove carbon from the water to build protective mineral plates made of limestone around themselves, which sink when they die. The process effectively pumps alkalinity deeper into the ocean, which chemically bolsters the water’s ability to resist becoming more acidic.

    The new study revealed that the algae also take in carbon from previously unrecognized sources deeper in the water column. This could connect coccolithophores to a new set of global processes and raises fundamental questions about their role in the ocean.

    Coccolithophores are integrated into global cycles in ways that we never imagined,” Balch said. “This research really changes my thinking about food webs in dark regions where photosynthesis clearly isn’t happening. It changes the paradigm.”

    The researchers next want to perform ocean experiments to observe how coccolithophores take in nutrients in their natural environment-especially in the dark. Godrijan hopes her work will help reveal more about the organisms, their significance, and their complex role on our planet.

    Coccolithophores are tiny, tiny creatures, but they have such huge impacts on all life that most people are not even aware of,” Godrijan said. “It brings me hope for our own lives to see how such small things can have such an influence on the planet.”

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences (US), founded in 1974, is an independent, non-profit oceanography research institute. The Laboratory’s research ranges from microbial oceanography to the large-scale biogeochemical processes that drive ocean ecosystems and health of the entire planet.

    The institute’s LEED Platinum laboratory is located on its research and education campus in East Boothbay, Maine. Bigelow Laboratory supports the work of about 100 scientists and staff. The majority of the institute’s funding comes from federal and state grants and contracts, philanthropic support, and licenses and contracts with the private sector.


    The Laboratory was established by Charles and Clarice Yentsch in 1974 as a private, non-profit research institution named for the oceanographer Henry Bryant Bigelow, founding director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (US). Bigelow’s extensive investigations in the early part of the twentieth century are recognized as the foundation of modern oceanography. His multi-year expeditions in the Gulf of Maine, where he collected water samples and data on phytoplankton, fish populations, and hydrography, established a new paradigm of intensive, ecologically-based oceanographic research in the United States and made this region one of the most thoroughly studied bodies of water, for its size, in the world.

    Since its founding, the Laboratory has attracted federal grants for research projects by winning competitive, peer reviewed awards from all of the principal federal research granting agencies. The Laboratory’s total operating revenue (including philanthropy) has grown to more than $10 million dollars a year. Federal research grants have supported most of the Laboratory’s research operations. Education and outreach programs rely on other sources of support, primarily contributions from individuals and private philanthropic foundations.

    In February 2018, Deborah Bronk became the president and CEO of Bigelow Laboratory. Prior to joining the Laboratory, Bronk was the Moses D. Nunnally Distinguished Professor of Marine Sciences and department chair at Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences. She previously served as division director for the National Science Foundation’s (US) Division of Ocean Science and as president of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography.

  • richardmitnick 4:35 pm on December 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Researchers test physics of coral as an indicator of reef health", , , , , Marine Microbiology, Marine scientists have relied on a single instrument to calculate flow around reefs. Measurements must be made with limited time and costly tools that can only be anchored in certain locations., , Replication is the foundation of our ability to trust science., , Stanford scientists recently addressed this imbalance demonstrating that measuring the physics of just a small portion of reef with a single instrument can reveal insights., , The researchers conducted field work in different locations within the Salomon Atoll in the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean., Water movement is foundational to reef success bringing nutrients and food and removing waste; far less research has been focused on the physics of these living communities.   

    From Stanford Earth (US) : “Researchers test physics of coral as an indicator of reef health” 

    From Stanford Earth (US)


    Stanford University Name
    Stanford University (US)

    December 14, 2021

    Danielle T. Tucker
    School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences
    (650) 497-9541

    Mathilde Lindhart
    School of Engineering
    (650) 250-9530

    Rob Dunbar
    School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences

    Alexy Khrizman
    School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences
    (650) 374-6153

    Stanford Earth Matters.

    Vast amounts of energy flow around the ocean as waves, tides and currents, eventually impacting coasts, including coral reefs that provide food, income and coastal protection to more than 500 million people. This water movement is foundational to reef success bringing nutrients and food and removing waste; yet far less research has been focused on the physics in comparison to the biology of these living communities.

    Stanford scientists recently addressed this imbalance by demonstrating that measuring the physics of just a small portion of reef with a single instrument can reveal insights about the health of an entire reef system. The findings point to low-cost methods for scaling up monitoring efforts of these enigmatic living structures, which are at risk of devastation in a changing climate. The results appeared in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans Dec. 14, 2021.

    “This approach is like building a weather station for coral reefs,” said lead study author Mathilde Lindhart, a PhD student in civil and environmental engineering. “If we have a couple of weather stations around, we can then determine the weather everywhere on the reef.”

    Limited resources

    For decades, marine scientists have often relied on a single instrument to calculate the flow around reefs because the measurements must be made with limited time and costly tools that can only be anchored in certain locations. As a result, they have had to assume that one measurement is representative of flow over the entire reef. This new work confirms that assumption is correct, bringing renewed credibility to previously collected data.

    “Replication is the foundation of our ability to trust science,” said senior study author Rob Dunbar, a professor of Earth system science in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “Our results are building a solid foundation for other studies of coral reef physics.”

    The study authors tested a suite of current meters, which send out sound waves that scatter off the currents and suspended particles, including sediment and plankton, then return with a shift in frequency that translates into flow velocities. They measured the fluid dynamics at different resolutions, with ranges from about 3 to 40 feet, depending on the instrument.

    PhD student Mathilde Lindhart deploys several instruments to measure the flow of water around reefs off Île Anglaise in the Indian Ocean in 2019. Credit: Rob Dunbar.

    “Marine biologists that do research on specific fish or corals or other organisms need to measure the flow,” said study co-author Alexy Khrizman, a PhD student in Earth system science. “It’s very important to know that the choice of the instrument is not going to affect the research. It’s also important that we get the flow and turbulence work correct, otherwise our calculations of production and calcification will not be correct.”

    Serendipitous science

    The researchers conducted field work in different locations within the Salomon Atoll in the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, south of the Maldives. They were collecting data about a reef off Île Anglaise as part of a larger initiative to study the British Indian Ocean Territory Marine Protected Area when they realized they were prepared to test the assumption that one instrument would provide enough information to understand the flow of the entire reef.

    “We were sort of testing our toolbox,” Lindhart said. “We had all these instruments in the water already and were actually looking for something else – it’s rare that you have the opportunity to measure the same thing, but in different ways.”

    The researchers used the data they collected to construct a three-dimensional model of the reef and its flow, bringing new clarity to the life of these underwater cities.

    “This is the first three-dimensional construct that tells us how the roughness and its variability from place to place impacts water flow over the reef,” Dunbar said. “There’s a direct correlation between the roughness of the coral reef and the biodiversity of the reef.”

    Fundamental insights

    Through their research, the study authors aim to answer foundational questions about how these incredibly complex structures interact with incoming energy.

    “There are so many ways to study reefs, what we sometimes call the currency by which you’re going to see what’s going on. For most people, it’s fish or the corals themselves,” Dunbar said. “What’s really new is that our currency is different – this paper is about using the physics of moving water as currency.”

    They also hope the findings will be useful to conservation managers. Coral reefs are like “super-efficient cement factories,” according to Dunbar, producing architectures and buildings that are self-healing. Although they comprise less than 1 percent of the surface area of the ocean, reefs are home to about 25 percent of all marine life.

    “In order to make any kind of projection about climate change, we need to know how they are working right now,” Lindhart said. “The beautiful thing about physics is that it’s the same everywhere – once we’ve established some principles, you can take them and use them somewhere else.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (US), which changed its name from the School of Earth Sciences in February 2015, is one of three schools at Stanford awarding both graduate and undergraduate degrees. Stanford’s first faculty member was a professor of geology; as such it is considered the oldest academic foundation of Stanford University. It is composed of four departments and two interdisciplinary programs. Research and teaching span a wide range of disciplines.

    Earth Sciences at Stanford can trace its roots to the university’s beginnings, when Stanford’s first president, David Starr Jordan, hired John Casper Branner, a geologist, as the university’s first professor. The search for and extraction of natural resources was the focus of Branner’s geology department during that period of Western development. Departments were originally not organized into schools but this changed when the department of geology became part of the School of Physical Sciences in 1926. This changed in 1946 when the School of Mineral Sciences was established and geology eventually split into several departments.

    Stanford University campus
    Stanford University (US)

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded Stanford University (US) to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members.

    Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private research university located in Stanford, California. Stanford was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford in memory of their only child, Leland Stanford Jr., who had died of typhoid fever at age 15 the previous year. Stanford is consistently ranked as among the most prestigious and top universities in the world by major education publications. It is also one of the top fundraising institutions in the country, becoming the first school to raise more than a billion dollars in a year.

    Leland Stanford was a U.S. senator and former governor of California who made his fortune as a railroad tycoon. The school admitted its first students on October 1, 1891, as a coeducational and non-denominational institution. Stanford University struggled financially after the death of Leland Stanford in 1893 and again after much of the campus was damaged by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Following World War II, provost Frederick Terman supported faculty and graduates’ entrepreneurialism to build self-sufficient local industry in what would later be known as Silicon Valley.

    The university is organized around seven schools: three schools consisting of 40 academic departments at the undergraduate level as well as four professional schools that focus on graduate programs in law, medicine, education, and business. All schools are on the same campus. Students compete in 36 varsity sports, and the university is one of two private institutions in the Division I FBS Pac-12 Conference. It has gained 126 NCAA team championships, and Stanford has won the NACDA Directors’ Cup for 24 consecutive years, beginning in 1994–1995. In addition, Stanford students and alumni have won 270 Olympic medals including 139 gold medals.

    As of October 2020, 84 Nobel laureates, 28 Turing Award laureates, and eight Fields Medalists have been affiliated with Stanford as students, alumni, faculty, or staff. In addition, Stanford is particularly noted for its entrepreneurship and is one of the most successful universities in attracting funding for start-ups. Stanford alumni have founded numerous companies, which combined produce more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue, roughly equivalent to the 7th largest economy in the world (as of 2020). Stanford is the alma mater of one president of the United States (Herbert Hoover), 74 living billionaires, and 17 astronauts. It is also one of the leading producers of Fulbright Scholars, Marshall Scholars, Rhodes Scholars, and members of the United States Congress.

    Stanford University was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford, dedicated to Leland Stanford Jr, their only child. The institution opened in 1891 on Stanford’s previous Palo Alto farm.

    Jane and Leland Stanford modeled their university after the great eastern universities, most specifically Cornell University. Stanford opened being called the “Cornell of the West” in 1891 due to faculty being former Cornell affiliates (either professors, alumni, or both) including its first president, David Starr Jordan, and second president, John Casper Branner. Both Cornell and Stanford were among the first to have higher education be accessible, nonsectarian, and open to women as well as to men. Cornell is credited as one of the first American universities to adopt this radical departure from traditional education, and Stanford became an early adopter as well.

    Despite being impacted by earthquakes in both 1906 and 1989, the campus was rebuilt each time. In 1919, The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace was started by Herbert Hoover to preserve artifacts related to World War I. The Stanford Medical Center, completed in 1959, is a teaching hospital with over 800 beds. The DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory(US)(originally named the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center), established in 1962, performs research in particle physics.


    Most of Stanford is on an 8,180-acre (12.8 sq mi; 33.1 km^2) campus, one of the largest in the United States. It is located on the San Francisco Peninsula, in the northwest part of the Santa Clara Valley (Silicon Valley) approximately 37 miles (60 km) southeast of San Francisco and approximately 20 miles (30 km) northwest of San Jose. In 2008, 60% of this land remained undeveloped.

    Stanford’s main campus includes a census-designated place within unincorporated Santa Clara County, although some of the university land (such as the Stanford Shopping Center and the Stanford Research Park) is within the city limits of Palo Alto. The campus also includes much land in unincorporated San Mateo County (including the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve), as well as in the city limits of Menlo Park (Stanford Hills neighborhood), Woodside, and Portola Valley.

    Non-central campus

    Stanford currently operates in various locations outside of its central campus.

    On the founding grant:

    Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve is a 1,200-acre (490 ha) natural reserve south of the central campus owned by the university and used by wildlife biologists for research.
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is a facility west of the central campus operated by the university for the Department of Energy. It contains the longest linear particle accelerator in the world, 2 miles (3.2 km) on 426 acres (172 ha) of land.
    Golf course and a seasonal lake: The university also has its own golf course and a seasonal lake (Lake Lagunita, actually an irrigation reservoir), both home to the vulnerable California tiger salamander. As of 2012 Lake Lagunita was often dry and the university had no plans to artificially fill it.

    Off the founding grant:

    Hopkins Marine Station, in Pacific Grove, California, is a marine biology research center owned by the university since 1892.
    Study abroad locations: unlike typical study abroad programs, Stanford itself operates in several locations around the world; thus, each location has Stanford faculty-in-residence and staff in addition to students, creating a “mini-Stanford”.

    Redwood City campus for many of the university’s administrative offices located in Redwood City, California, a few miles north of the main campus. In 2005, the university purchased a small, 35-acre (14 ha) campus in Midpoint Technology Park intended for staff offices; development was delayed by The Great Recession. In 2015 the university announced a development plan and the Redwood City campus opened in March 2019.

    The Bass Center in Washington, DC provides a base, including housing, for the Stanford in Washington program for undergraduates. It includes a small art gallery open to the public.

    China: Stanford Center at Peking University, housed in the Lee Jung Sen Building, is a small center for researchers and students in collaboration with Beijing University [北京大学](CN) (Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University(CN) (KIAA-PKU).

    Administration and organization

    Stanford is a private, non-profit university that is administered as a corporate trust governed by a privately appointed board of trustees with a maximum membership of 38. Trustees serve five-year terms (not more than two consecutive terms) and meet five times annually.[83] A new trustee is chosen by the current trustees by ballot. The Stanford trustees also oversee the Stanford Research Park, the Stanford Shopping Center, the Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University Medical Center, and many associated medical facilities (including the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital).

    The board appoints a president to serve as the chief executive officer of the university, to prescribe the duties of professors and course of study, to manage financial and business affairs, and to appoint nine vice presidents. The provost is the chief academic and budget officer, to whom the deans of each of the seven schools report. Persis Drell became the 13th provost in February 2017.

    As of 2018, the university was organized into seven academic schools. The schools of Humanities and Sciences (27 departments), Engineering (nine departments), and Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (four departments) have both graduate and undergraduate programs while the Schools of Law, Medicine, Education and Business have graduate programs only. The powers and authority of the faculty are vested in the Academic Council, which is made up of tenure and non-tenure line faculty, research faculty, senior fellows in some policy centers and institutes, the president of the university, and some other academic administrators, but most matters are handled by the Faculty Senate, made up of 55 elected representatives of the faculty.

    The Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) is the student government for Stanford and all registered students are members. Its elected leadership consists of the Undergraduate Senate elected by the undergraduate students, the Graduate Student Council elected by the graduate students, and the President and Vice President elected as a ticket by the entire student body.

    Stanford is the beneficiary of a special clause in the California Constitution, which explicitly exempts Stanford property from taxation so long as the property is used for educational purposes.

    Endowment and donations

    The university’s endowment, managed by the Stanford Management Company, was valued at $27.7 billion as of August 31, 2019. Payouts from the Stanford endowment covered approximately 21.8% of university expenses in the 2019 fiscal year. In the 2018 NACUBO-TIAA survey of colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, only Harvard University(US), the University of Texas System(US), and Yale University(US) had larger endowments than Stanford.

    In 2006, President John L. Hennessy launched a five-year campaign called the Stanford Challenge, which reached its $4.3 billion fundraising goal in 2009, two years ahead of time, but continued fundraising for the duration of the campaign. It concluded on December 31, 2011, having raised a total of $6.23 billion and breaking the previous campaign fundraising record of $3.88 billion held by Yale. Specifically, the campaign raised $253.7 million for undergraduate financial aid, as well as $2.33 billion for its initiative in “Seeking Solutions” to global problems, $1.61 billion for “Educating Leaders” by improving K-12 education, and $2.11 billion for “Foundation of Excellence” aimed at providing academic support for Stanford students and faculty. Funds supported 366 new fellowships for graduate students, 139 new endowed chairs for faculty, and 38 new or renovated buildings. The new funding also enabled the construction of a facility for stem cell research; a new campus for the business school; an expansion of the law school; a new Engineering Quad; a new art and art history building; an on-campus concert hall; a new art museum; and a planned expansion of the medical school, among other things. In 2012, the university raised $1.035 billion, becoming the first school to raise more than a billion dollars in a year.

    Research centers and institutes

    DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory(US)
    Stanford Research Institute, a center of innovation to support economic development in the region.
    Hoover Institution, a conservative American public policy institution and research institution that promotes personal and economic liberty, free enterprise, and limited government.
    Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, a multidisciplinary design school in cooperation with the Hasso Plattner Institute of University of Potsdam [Universität Potsdam](DE) that integrates product design, engineering, and business management education).
    Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, which grew out of and still contains the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project.
    John S. Knight Fellowship for Professional Journalists
    Center for Ocean Solutions
    Together with UC Berkeley(US) and UC San Francisco(US), Stanford is part of the Biohub, a new medical science research center founded in 2016 by a $600 million commitment from Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg and pediatrician Priscilla Chan.

    Discoveries and innovation

    Natural sciences

    Biological synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) – Arthur Kornberg synthesized DNA material and won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1959 for his work at Stanford.
    First Transgenic organism – Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer were the first scientists to transplant genes from one living organism to another, a fundamental discovery for genetic engineering. Thousands of products have been developed on the basis of their work, including human growth hormone and hepatitis B vaccine.
    Laser – Arthur Leonard Schawlow shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physics with Nicolaas Bloembergen and Kai Siegbahn for his work on lasers.
    Nuclear magnetic resonance – Felix Bloch developed new methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements, which are the underlying principles of the MRI.

    Computer and applied sciences

    ARPANETStanford Research Institute, formerly part of Stanford but on a separate campus, was the site of one of the four original ARPANET nodes.

    Internet—Stanford was the site where the original design of the Internet was undertaken. Vint Cerf led a research group to elaborate the design of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP/IP) that he originally co-created with Robert E. Kahn (Bob Kahn) in 1973 and which formed the basis for the architecture of the Internet.

    Frequency modulation synthesis – John Chowning of the Music department invented the FM music synthesis algorithm in 1967, and Stanford later licensed it to Yamaha Corporation.

    Google – Google began in January 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were both PhD students at Stanford. They were working on the Stanford Digital Library Project (SDLP). The SDLP’s goal was “to develop the enabling technologies for a single, integrated and universal digital library” and it was funded through the National Science Foundation, among other federal agencies.

    Klystron tube – invented by the brothers Russell and Sigurd Varian at Stanford. Their prototype was completed and demonstrated successfully on August 30, 1937. Upon publication in 1939, news of the klystron immediately influenced the work of U.S. and UK researchers working on radar equipment.

    RISCARPA funded VLSI project of microprocessor design. Stanford and UC Berkeley are most associated with the popularization of this concept. The Stanford MIPS would go on to be commercialized as the successful MIPS architecture, while Berkeley RISC gave its name to the entire concept, commercialized as the SPARC. Another success from this era were IBM’s efforts that eventually led to the IBM POWER instruction set architecture, PowerPC, and Power ISA. As these projects matured, a wide variety of similar designs flourished in the late 1980s and especially the early 1990s, representing a major force in the Unix workstation market as well as embedded processors in laser printers, routers and similar products.
    SUN workstation – Andy Bechtolsheim designed the SUN workstation for the Stanford University Network communications project as a personal CAD workstation, which led to Sun Microsystems.

    Businesses and entrepreneurship

    Stanford is one of the most successful universities in creating companies and licensing its inventions to existing companies; it is often held up as a model for technology transfer. Stanford’s Office of Technology Licensing is responsible for commercializing university research, intellectual property, and university-developed projects.

    The university is described as having a strong venture culture in which students are encouraged, and often funded, to launch their own companies.

    Companies founded by Stanford alumni generate more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue, equivalent to the 10th-largest economy in the world.

    Some companies closely associated with Stanford and their connections include:

    Hewlett-Packard, 1939, co-founders William R. Hewlett (B.S, PhD) and David Packard (M.S).
    Silicon Graphics, 1981, co-founders James H. Clark (Associate Professor) and several of his grad students.
    Sun Microsystems, 1982, co-founders Vinod Khosla (M.B.A), Andy Bechtolsheim (PhD) and Scott McNealy (M.B.A).
    Cisco, 1984, founders Leonard Bosack (M.S) and Sandy Lerner (M.S) who were in charge of Stanford Computer Science and Graduate School of Business computer operations groups respectively when the hardware was developed.[163]
    Yahoo!, 1994, co-founders Jerry Yang (B.S, M.S) and David Filo (M.S).
    Google, 1998, co-founders Larry Page (M.S) and Sergey Brin (M.S).
    LinkedIn, 2002, co-founders Reid Hoffman (B.S), Konstantin Guericke (B.S, M.S), Eric Lee (B.S), and Alan Liu (B.S).
    Instagram, 2010, co-founders Kevin Systrom (B.S) and Mike Krieger (B.S).
    Snapchat, 2011, co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy (B.S).
    Coursera, 2012, co-founders Andrew Ng (Associate Professor) and Daphne Koller (Professor, PhD).

    Student body

    Stanford enrolled 6,996 undergraduate and 10,253 graduate students as of the 2019–2020 school year. Women comprised 50.4% of undergraduates and 41.5% of graduate students. In the same academic year, the freshman retention rate was 99%.

    Stanford awarded 1,819 undergraduate degrees, 2,393 master’s degrees, 770 doctoral degrees, and 3270 professional degrees in the 2018–2019 school year. The four-year graduation rate for the class of 2017 cohort was 72.9%, and the six-year rate was 94.4%. The relatively low four-year graduation rate is a function of the university’s coterminal degree (or “coterm”) program, which allows students to earn a master’s degree as a 1-to-2-year extension of their undergraduate program.

    As of 2010, fifteen percent of undergraduates were first-generation students.


    As of 2016 Stanford had 16 male varsity sports and 20 female varsity sports, 19 club sports and about 27 intramural sports. In 1930, following a unanimous vote by the Executive Committee for the Associated Students, the athletic department adopted the mascot “Indian.” The Indian symbol and name were dropped by President Richard Lyman in 1972, after objections from Native American students and a vote by the student senate. The sports teams are now officially referred to as the “Stanford Cardinal,” referring to the deep red color, not the cardinal bird. Stanford is a member of the Pac-12 Conference in most sports, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in several other sports, and the America East Conference in field hockey with the participation in the inter-collegiate NCAA’s Division I FBS.

    Its traditional sports rival is the University of California, Berkeley, the neighbor to the north in the East Bay. The winner of the annual “Big Game” between the Cal and Cardinal football teams gains custody of the Stanford Axe.

    Stanford has had at least one NCAA team champion every year since the 1976–77 school year and has earned 126 NCAA national team titles since its establishment, the most among universities, and Stanford has won 522 individual national championships, the most by any university. Stanford has won the award for the top-ranked Division 1 athletic program—the NACDA Directors’ Cup, formerly known as the Sears Cup—annually for the past twenty-four straight years. Stanford athletes have won medals in every Olympic Games since 1912, winning 270 Olympic medals total, 139 of them gold. In the 2008 Summer Olympics, and 2016 Summer Olympics, Stanford won more Olympic medals than any other university in the United States. Stanford athletes won 16 medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics (12 gold, two silver and two bronze), and 27 medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics.


    The unofficial motto of Stanford, selected by President Jordan, is Die Luft der Freiheit weht. Translated from the German language, this quotation from Ulrich von Hutten means, “The wind of freedom blows.” The motto was controversial during World War I, when anything in German was suspect; at that time the university disavowed that this motto was official.
    Hail, Stanford, Hail! is the Stanford Hymn sometimes sung at ceremonies or adapted by the various University singing groups. It was written in 1892 by mechanical engineering professor Albert W. Smith and his wife, Mary Roberts Smith (in 1896 she earned the first Stanford doctorate in Economics and later became associate professor of Sociology), but was not officially adopted until after a performance on campus in March 1902 by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
    “Uncommon Man/Uncommon Woman”: Stanford does not award honorary degrees, but in 1953 the degree of “Uncommon Man/Uncommon Woman” was created to recognize individuals who give rare and extraordinary service to the University. Technically, this degree is awarded by the Stanford Associates, a voluntary group that is part of the university’s alumni association. As Stanford’s highest honor, it is not conferred at prescribed intervals, but only when appropriate to recognize extraordinary service. Recipients include Herbert Hoover, Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard, Lucile Packard, and John Gardner.
    Big Game events: The events in the week leading up to the Big Game vs. UC Berkeley, including Gaieties (a musical written, composed, produced, and performed by the students of Ram’s Head Theatrical Society).
    “Viennese Ball”: a formal ball with waltzes that was initially started in the 1970s by students returning from the now-closed Stanford in Vienna overseas program. It is now open to all students.
    “Full Moon on the Quad”: An annual event at Main Quad, where students gather to kiss one another starting at midnight. Typically organized by the Junior class cabinet, the festivities include live entertainment, such as music and dance performances.
    “Band Run”: An annual festivity at the beginning of the school year, where the band picks up freshmen from dorms across campus while stopping to perform at each location, culminating in a finale performance at Main Quad.
    “Mausoleum Party”: An annual Halloween Party at the Stanford Mausoleum, the final resting place of Leland Stanford Jr. and his parents. A 20-year tradition, the “Mausoleum Party” was on hiatus from 2002 to 2005 due to a lack of funding, but was revived in 2006. In 2008, it was hosted in Old Union rather than at the actual Mausoleum, because rain prohibited generators from being rented. In 2009, after fundraising efforts by the Junior Class Presidents and the ASSU Executive, the event was able to return to the Mausoleum despite facing budget cuts earlier in the year.
    Former campus traditions include the “Big Game bonfire” on Lake Lagunita (a seasonal lake usually dry in the fall), which was formally ended in 1997 because of the presence of endangered salamanders in the lake bed.

    Award laureates and scholars

    Stanford’s current community of scholars includes:

    19 Nobel Prize laureates (as of October 2020, 85 affiliates in total)
    171 members of the National Academy of Sciences
    109 members of National Academy of Engineering
    76 members of National Academy of Medicine
    288 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    19 recipients of the National Medal of Science
    1 recipient of the National Medal of Technology
    4 recipients of the National Humanities Medal
    49 members of American Philosophical Society
    56 fellows of the American Physics Society (since 1995)
    4 Pulitzer Prize winners
    31 MacArthur Fellows
    4 Wolf Foundation Prize winners
    2 ACL Lifetime Achievement Award winners
    14 AAAI fellows
    2 Presidential Medal of Freedom winners

    Stanford University Seal

  • richardmitnick 2:25 pm on December 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Coral reefs of western Indian Ocean at risk of collapse-study", , , , , Marine Microbiology, , Reefs along the eastern coast of Africa and island nations like Mauritius and Seychelles faced a high risk of extinction., Rising sea temperatures and overfishing threaten coral reefs in the western Indian Ocean.   

    From phys.org : “Coral reefs of western Indian Ocean at risk of collapse-study” 

    From phys.org

    December 6, 2021
    Nick Perry

    The findings warn that reefs along the eastern coast of Africa and island nations like Mauritius and Seychelles faced a high risk of extinction unless urgent action was taken.

    Rising sea temperatures and overfishing threaten coral reefs in the western Indian Ocean with complete collapse in the next 50 years, according to a groundbreaking study of these marine ecosystems.

    The findings, published in the journal Nature Sustainability on Monday, warned that reefs along the eastern coast of Africa and island nations like Mauritius and Seychelles faced a high risk of extinction unless urgent action was taken.

    For the first time, researchers were able to assess the vulnerability of individual reefs across the vast western reaches of the Indian Ocean, and identify the main threats to coral health.

    They found that all reefs in this region faced “complete ecosystem collapse and irreversible damage” within decades, and that ocean warming meant some coral habitats were already critically endangered.

    “The findings are quite serious. These reefs are vulnerable to collapse,” lead author David Obura, founding director at CORDIO East Africa, a Kenya-based oceans research institute, told AFP.

    “There’s nowhere in the region where the reefs are in full health. They’ve all declined somewhat, and that will continue.”

    The study, co-authored with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, assessed 11,919 square kilometres of reef, representing about five percent of the global total.

    Reefs fringing picturesque island nations like Mauritius, Seychelles, the Comoros and Madagascar—popular ecotourism destinations heavily reliant on their marine environment—were most at risk, researchers said.

    “Double whammy”

    Coral reefs cover only a tiny fraction—0.2 percent—of the ocean floor, but they are home to at least a quarter of all marine animals and plants.

    Besides anchoring marine ecosystems, they also provide protein, jobs and protection from storms and shoreline erosion for hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

    Obura said healthy reefs were “very valuable” and their loss would prove “a double whammy”.

    “For biodiversity, but also all sorts of coastal economies that depend on reefs,” he said.

    Climate change posed the biggest threat to coral health overall in the western Indian Ocean, where scientists say seawater temperatures are warming faster than in other parts of the globe.

    Oceans absorb more than 90 percent of the excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions, shielding land surfaces but generating huge, long-lasting marine heatwaves that are pushing many species of corals past their limits of tolerance.

    But along the east coast of continental Africa from Kenya to South Africa, pressure from overfishing was also identified in this latest study as another major scourge on reef ecosystems.

    This underscored the need to urgently address both global threats to coral reefs from climate change, and local ones such as overfishing, Obura said.

    “We need to give these reefs the best chance. In order to do that, we have to reduce the drivers, reverse the pressure on reefs,” he said.

    In October, the largest ever global survey of coral health revealed that dynamite fishing, pollution but mainly global warming had wiped out 14 percent of the world’s coral reefs from 2009 to 2018.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    About Science X in 100 words
    Science X™ is a leading web-based science, research and technology news service which covers a full range of topics. These include physics, earth science, medicine, nanotechnology, electronics, space, biology, chemistry, computer sciences, engineering, mathematics and other sciences and technologies. Launched in 2004 (Physorg.com), Science X’s readership has grown steadily to include 5 million scientists, researchers, and engineers every month. Science X publishes approximately 200 quality articles every day, offering some of the most comprehensive coverage of sci-tech developments world-wide. Science X community members enjoy access to many personalized features such as social networking, a personal home page set-up, article comments and ranking, the ability to save favorite articles, a daily newsletter, and other options.
    Mission 12 reasons for reading daily news on Science X Organization Key editors and writers include 1.75 million scientists, researchers, and engineers every month. Phys.org publishes approximately 100 quality articles every day, offering some of the most comprehensive coverage of sci-tech developments world-wide. Quancast 2009 includes Phys.org in its list of the Global Top 2,000 Websites. Phys.org community members enjoy access to many personalized features such as social networking, a personal home page set-up, RSS/XML feeds, article comments and ranking, the ability to save favorite articles, a daily newsletter, and other options.

  • richardmitnick 12:02 pm on November 30, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "From corals to humans-a shared trigger for sperm to get in motion", , , , Marine Microbiology,   

    From Penn Today : “From corals to humans-a shared trigger for sperm to get in motion” 

    From Penn Today


    U Penn bloc

    University of Pennsylvania

    November 22, 2021
    Katherine Unger Baillie

    Hemaphroditic coral, like this Montipora capitata, release both eggs and sperm into the water. New findings from Penn biologists reveal that the mechanism by which sperm begin to move is both pH-dependent and similar to the pathways used in a variety of other creatures, including humans. Image: Courtesy of the Barott Laboratory.

    If sperm can’t swim, life can’t go on. And a new study suggests that when evolution hit upon an effective strategy for making sperm move, it stuck with it.

    A molecular pathway governing sperm motility is shared between corals, sea urchins, and even humans, according to research by a team from Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences. The mechanism is regulated by a pH sensor that signals when sperm are to begin swimming. The work, led by Kelsey Speer, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Katie Barott in the Department of Biology, appears in the journal PNAS.

    Climate change, which is making the oceans more not only warmer but also more acidic, and localized disturbances, such as sedimentation, may threaten the process.

    “When we started this project, nobody to our knowledge had looked at the mechanism that controlled coral sperm motility,” says Speer, the study’s first author. “We were really interested in what drives this process in the ocean, because that’s a part of their life cycle that is very vulnerable.”

    “There’s so much diversity in sperm between species, so to find that this pathway was as conserved as it was, was surprising,” adds Barott, senior author on the paper. “I think this work highlights how important it is to regulate this function. Animals are dependent on these pathways functioning in order to make the next generation. If sperm don’t work, that’s the end.”

    Sperm tend to be finicky and vulnerable, highly sensitive to their environment. Too warm? Males don’t produce sperm. Too acidic? Sperm don’t swim. Coral sperm have the odds stacked particularly tall against them. The hermaphroditic creatures only reproduce a few nights each year, timed with the new moon. They release both eggs and sperm into the open ocean, where sperm must swim through the water column, hoping for a fruitful match.

    To capture sperm for their study, the Penn biologists conducted careful field work in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, where the coral Montipora capitata reproduce only a few nights each year. Image: Courtesy of Katie Barott.

    In contrast to coral sperm, which have been little studied, sea urchins serve as a model organism for studying sperm. But despite their appearance, sea urchins are much more closely related to humans than to coral, and the signalling cascade responsible for setting their sperm in motion is also highly similar to that of vertebrates. Thus the Penn team was curious to see how regulation of coral sperm motility compared.

    They started with a clue that corals may possess a similar mechanism.

    “There is a really ancient pH-sensing enzyme that our lab had studied for a while that was present in corals,” Speer says. “It’s present in human sperm and it’s present in sea urchin sperm and we wondered, ‘Hey, it’s present in coral sperm too. What could it be controlling?’”

    To find out, the researchers waited until one of those new-moon nights in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, to scoop up the egg-sperm bundles released by the coral Montipora capitata. Acting quickly, they took the sperm back to the lab, holding them in a sodium-free seawater. “What it does is it prevents all these signaling pathways from operating, so they’re frozen in an immobile state,” says Barott. “Then you can add a chemical to artificially raise their pH, and the sperm start swimming right away.”

    The Penn team labeled the enzyme sAC in sperm with a green fluorescent marker, enabling them to track its activity in the lab. The genetic sequence encoding sAC in coral bore many similarities to the equivalent enzyme in sea urchins as well as vertebrates. Image: Courtesy of Kelsey Speer.

    Upon this activation, the researchers were able to monitor the activity of the enzyme of interest, soluble adenylyl cyclase (sAC) and cyclic AMP, the messenger molecule it produces, while also tracking how well the sperm were moving. Their experiments confirmed that sAC activity was required for sperm to swim; when the enzyme was blocked, the sperm flagella—the “tails”—moved weakly.

    Comparing the genetic sequence of the M. capitata sAC to the sAC from a sea urchin species, Speer, Barott, and colleagues noted significant similarities, with about 50% of the sequence being the same overall, and identical sequences at key sites for the enzyme’s catalytic activity.

    “We looked at previously published datasets that catalog every mRNA that would become a protein in these cells, so we could get an idea of the molecular machinery in place to regulate sperm motility in these species,” says Barott.

    Interestingly, M. capitata contained multiple different forms of sAC, some of which more closely resembled versions present in mammals. In follow-up work, the team hopes to explore how these different forms are operating in the corals, as well as in other model marine organisms.

    Looking at other molecular players in the sperm activation pathways initiated by sAC, the researchers found several shared by sea urchins as well as both other coral species, members of the Cnidarian phylum.

    “If you’re thinking about the difference in the last common ancestor between humans and Cnidarians—that was a heck of a long time ago,” Speer says. “The fact that the core of this mechanism has been conserved between these two species is really neat. I think it speaks to the fact that it’s a really good system, so nobody needed to replace it with something better.”

    With a basic picture of coral sperm motility in place, Barott’s lab hopes to pursue additional experiments that get at the question of how changing environmental conditions could alter the organism’s reproductive success.

    “Both us and colleagues who study this species of coral have seen huge differences in the amount of sperm become mobile from year to year, and it does look like climate change, especially heat stress, can play a big role in knocking down sperm motility,” Barott says. “Now that we have this toolkit, we can do these climate-change type of experiments and understand more about the dynamics of this pathway and how it changes in periods of stress.”

    With coral reefs under threat from climate change, pollutants, sedimentation, and other factors, Barott and colleagues hope to continue investigating how such challenges may influence coral reproduction and persistence. Image: Courtesy of Kelsey Speer.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at University of Pennsylvania (US) is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

    The University of Pennsylvania (US) is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The university claims a founding date of 1740 and is one of the nine colonial colleges chartered prior to the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin, Penn’s founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum.

    Penn has four undergraduate schools as well as twelve graduate and professional schools. Schools enrolling undergraduates include the College of Arts and Sciences; the School of Engineering and Applied Science; the Wharton School; and the School of Nursing. Penn’s “One University Policy” allows students to enroll in classes in any of Penn’s twelve schools. Among its highly ranked graduate and professional schools are a law school whose first professor wrote the first draft of the United States Constitution, the first school of medicine in North America (Perelman School of Medicine, 1765), and the first collegiate business school (Wharton School, 1881).

    Penn is also home to the first “student union” building and organization (Houston Hall, 1896), the first Catholic student club in North America (Newman Center, 1893), the first double-decker college football stadium (Franklin Field, 1924 when second deck was constructed), and Morris Arboretum, the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The first general-purpose electronic computer (ENIAC) was developed at Penn and formally dedicated in 1946. In 2019, the university had an endowment of $14.65 billion, the sixth-largest endowment of all universities in the United States, as well as a research budget of $1.02 billion. The university’s athletics program, the Quakers, fields varsity teams in 33 sports as a member of the NCAA Division I Ivy League conference.

    As of 2018, distinguished alumni and/or Trustees include three U.S. Supreme Court justices; 32 U.S. senators; 46 U.S. governors; 163 members of the U.S. House of Representatives; eight signers of the Declaration of Independence and seven signers of the U.S. Constitution (four of whom signed both representing two-thirds of the six people who signed both); 24 members of the Continental Congress; 14 foreign heads of state and two presidents of the United States, including Donald Trump. As of October 2019, 36 Nobel laureates; 80 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences(US); 64 billionaires; 29 Rhodes Scholars; 15 Marshall Scholars and 16 Pulitzer Prize winners have been affiliated with the university.


    The University of Pennsylvania considers itself the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, though this is contested by Princeton University(US) and Columbia(US) Universities. The university also considers itself as the first university in the United States with both undergraduate and graduate studies.

    In 1740, a group of Philadelphians joined together to erect a great preaching hall for the traveling evangelist George Whitefield, who toured the American colonies delivering open-air sermons. The building was designed and built by Edmund Woolley and was the largest building in the city at the time, drawing thousands of people the first time it was preached in. It was initially planned to serve as a charity school as well, but a lack of funds forced plans for the chapel and school to be suspended. According to Franklin’s autobiography, it was in 1743 when he first had the idea to establish an academy, “thinking the Rev. Richard Peters a fit person to superintend such an institution”. However, Peters declined a casual inquiry from Franklin and nothing further was done for another six years. In the fall of 1749, now more eager to create a school to educate future generations, Benjamin Franklin circulated a pamphlet titled Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania, his vision for what he called a “Public Academy of Philadelphia”. Unlike the other colonial colleges that existed in 1749—Harvard University(US), William & Mary(US), Yale Unversity(US), and The College of New Jersey(US)—Franklin’s new school would not focus merely on education for the clergy. He advocated an innovative concept of higher education, one which would teach both the ornamental knowledge of the arts and the practical skills necessary for making a living and doing public service. The proposed program of study could have become the nation’s first modern liberal arts curriculum, although it was never implemented because Anglican priest William Smith (1727-1803), who became the first provost, and other trustees strongly preferred the traditional curriculum.

    Franklin assembled a board of trustees from among the leading citizens of Philadelphia, the first such non-sectarian board in America. At the first meeting of the 24 members of the board of trustees on November 13, 1749, the issue of where to locate the school was a prime concern. Although a lot across Sixth Street from the old Pennsylvania State House (later renamed and famously known since 1776 as “Independence Hall”), was offered without cost by James Logan, its owner, the trustees realized that the building erected in 1740, which was still vacant, would be an even better site. The original sponsors of the dormant building still owed considerable construction debts and asked Franklin’s group to assume their debts and, accordingly, their inactive trusts. On February 1, 1750, the new board took over the building and trusts of the old board. On August 13, 1751, the “Academy of Philadelphia”, using the great hall at 4th and Arch Streets, took in its first secondary students. A charity school also was chartered on July 13, 1753 by the intentions of the original “New Building” donors, although it lasted only a few years. On June 16, 1755, the “College of Philadelphia” was chartered, paving the way for the addition of undergraduate instruction. All three schools shared the same board of trustees and were considered to be part of the same institution. The first commencement exercises were held on May 17, 1757.

    The institution of higher learning was known as the College of Philadelphia from 1755 to 1779. In 1779, not trusting then-provost the Reverend William Smith’s “Loyalist” tendencies, the revolutionary State Legislature created a University of the State of Pennsylvania. The result was a schism, with Smith continuing to operate an attenuated version of the College of Philadelphia. In 1791, the legislature issued a new charter, merging the two institutions into a new University of Pennsylvania with twelve men from each institution on the new board of trustees.

    Penn has three claims to being the first university in the United States, according to university archives director Mark Frazier Lloyd: the 1765 founding of the first medical school in America made Penn the first institution to offer both “undergraduate” and professional education; the 1779 charter made it the first American institution of higher learning to take the name of “University”; and existing colleges were established as seminaries (although, as detailed earlier, Penn adopted a traditional seminary curriculum as well).

    After being located in downtown Philadelphia for more than a century, the campus was moved across the Schuylkill River to property purchased from the Blockley Almshouse in West Philadelphia in 1872, where it has since remained in an area now known as University City. Although Penn began operating as an academy or secondary school in 1751 and obtained its collegiate charter in 1755, it initially designated 1750 as its founding date; this is the year that appears on the first iteration of the university seal. Sometime later in its early history, Penn began to consider 1749 as its founding date and this year was referenced for over a century, including at the centennial celebration in 1849. In 1899, the board of trustees voted to adjust the founding date earlier again, this time to 1740, the date of “the creation of the earliest of the many educational trusts the University has taken upon itself”. The board of trustees voted in response to a three-year campaign by Penn’s General Alumni Society to retroactively revise the university’s founding date to appear older than Princeton University, which had been chartered in 1746.

    Research, innovations and discoveries

    Penn is classified as an “R1” doctoral university: “Highest research activity.” Its economic impact on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for 2015 amounted to $14.3 billion. Penn’s research expenditures in the 2018 fiscal year were $1.442 billion, the fourth largest in the U.S. In fiscal year 2019 Penn received $582.3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health(US).

    In line with its well-known interdisciplinary tradition, Penn’s research centers often span two or more disciplines. In the 2010–2011 academic year alone, five interdisciplinary research centers were created or substantially expanded; these include the Center for Health-care Financing; the Center for Global Women’s Health at the Nursing School; the $13 million Morris Arboretum’s Horticulture Center; the $15 million Jay H. Baker Retailing Center at Wharton; and the $13 million Translational Research Center at Penn Medicine. With these additions, Penn now counts 165 research centers hosting a research community of over 4,300 faculty and over 1,100 postdoctoral fellows, 5,500 academic support staff and graduate student trainees. To further assist the advancement of interdisciplinary research President Amy Gutmann established the “Penn Integrates Knowledge” title awarded to selected Penn professors “whose research and teaching exemplify the integration of knowledge”. These professors hold endowed professorships and joint appointments between Penn’s schools.

    Penn is also among the most prolific producers of doctoral students. With 487 PhDs awarded in 2009, Penn ranks third in the Ivy League, only behind Columbia University(US) and Cornell University(US) (Harvard University(US) did not report data). It also has one of the highest numbers of post-doctoral appointees (933 in number for 2004–2007), ranking third in the Ivy League (behind Harvard and Yale University(US)) and tenth nationally.

    In most disciplines Penn professors’ productivity is among the highest in the nation and first in the fields of epidemiology, business, communication studies, comparative literature, languages, information science, criminal justice and criminology, social sciences and sociology. According to the National Research Council nearly three-quarters of Penn’s 41 assessed programs were placed in ranges including the top 10 rankings in their fields, with more than half of these in ranges including the top five rankings in these fields.

    Penn’s research tradition has historically been complemented by innovations that shaped higher education. In addition to establishing the first medical school; the first university teaching hospital; the first business school; and the first student union Penn was also the cradle of other significant developments. In 1852, Penn Law was the first law school in the nation to publish a law journal still in existence (then called The American Law Register, now the Penn Law Review, one of the most cited law journals in the world). Under the deanship of William Draper Lewis, the law school was also one of the first schools to emphasize legal teaching by full-time professors instead of practitioners, a system that is still followed today. The Wharton School was home to several pioneering developments in business education. It established the first research center in a business school in 1921 and the first center for entrepreneurship center in 1973 and it regularly introduced novel curricula for which BusinessWeek wrote, “Wharton is on the crest of a wave of reinvention and change in management education”.

    Several major scientific discoveries have also taken place at Penn. The university is probably best known as the place where the first general-purpose electronic computer (ENIAC) was born in 1946 at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering.

    ENIAC UPenn

    It was here also where the world’s first spelling and grammar checkers were created, as well as the popular COBOL programming language. Penn can also boast some of the most important discoveries in the field of medicine. The dialysis machine used as an artificial replacement for lost kidney function was conceived and devised out of a pressure cooker by William Inouye while he was still a student at Penn Med; the Rubella and Hepatitis B vaccines were developed at Penn; the discovery of cancer’s link with genes; cognitive therapy; Retin-A (the cream used to treat acne), Resistin; the Philadelphia gene (linked to chronic myelogenous leukemia) and the technology behind PET Scans were all discovered by Penn Med researchers. More recent gene research has led to the discovery of the genes for fragile X syndrome, the most common form of inherited mental retardation; spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, a disorder marked by progressive muscle wasting; and Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the hands, feet and limbs.

    Conductive polymer was also developed at Penn by Alan J. Heeger, Alan MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa, an invention that earned them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. On faculty since 1965, Ralph L. Brinster developed the scientific basis for in vitro fertilization and the transgenic mouse at Penn and was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2010. The theory of superconductivity was also partly developed at Penn, by then-faculty member John Robert Schrieffer (along with John Bardeen and Leon Cooper). The university has also contributed major advancements in the fields of economics and management. Among the many discoveries are conjoint analysis, widely used as a predictive tool especially in market research; Simon Kuznets’s method of measuring Gross National Product; the Penn effect (the observation that consumer price levels in richer countries are systematically higher than in poorer ones) and the “Wharton Model” developed by Nobel-laureate Lawrence Klein to measure and forecast economic activity. The idea behind Health Maintenance Organizations also belonged to Penn professor Robert Eilers, who put it into practice during then-President Nixon’s health reform in the 1970s.

    International partnerships

    Students can study abroad for a semester or a year at partner institutions such as the London School of Economics(UK), University of Barcelona [Universitat de Barcelona](ES), Paris Institute of Political Studies [Institut d’études politiques de Paris](FR), University of Queensland(AU), University College London(UK), King’s College London(UK), Hebrew University of Jerusalem(IL) and University of Warwick(UK).

  • richardmitnick 9:12 am on November 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: " 'We must improve how we treat our Reef' ”, "Moving Corals Project" where coral larvae are grown in floating pools, , , , , , Marine Microbiology, Multiple coral larvae research projects   

    From CSIROscope (AU): ” ‘We must improve how we treat our Reef’ ” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope (AU)


    CSIRO (AU)-Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    25 Nov, 2021
    Jane Adcroft, The Great Barrier Reef Foundation(AU)

    Dr. Christopher Doropoulos says utilising the masses of coral larvae released following annual spawning events could help restore our Reef.

    Dr. Christopher Doropoulos.

    Chris’s early life story doesn’t read like your typical marine ecologist-in-the-making. While he was always fascinated by marine ecosystems, Chris grew up in a family of artists. He studied film and photography, later leaving university behind to follow his dreams of becoming a rock star.

    His bands played locally, toured nationally and once even internationally in the early 2000s, performing, recording and featuring on Triple J and the iconic Saturday morning TV music video program Rage.

    “I never imagined being a scientist – the dream was to be a rock star,” he admits.

    Coral captivated Chris

    But in the end, the life cycle of corals won Chris’s heart.

    And it’s little wonder why. To witness coral reproduction is to watch one of nature’s greatest phenomena. Once a year, on cue, millions of corals release their eggs and sperm in a synchronised mass spawning event. Fertilised eggs then develop into baby corals, known as larvae, which settle on the ocean floor and repopulate the Reef.

    Chris said he’s now lucky enough to watch spawning unfold each year as part of his research into the intricacies of coral ‘recruitment’. It looks at the factors that can help or hinder larvae’s chances of surviving to adulthood.

    “The various ecological interactions and trade-offs during the early life stages of corals are just endless! We’ll never know it all but there is so much opportunity for discovery,” he said.

    Chris monitoring coral growth and survival. Credit: Marie Roman, The Australian Institute of Marine Science(AU).

    The importance of how we treat our Reef

    Chris’s love of coral began while working at Edith Cowan University(AU) as a Research Assistant at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. This led to a successful research career with The University of Queensland (AU), The ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies, The Australian Coral Reef Society (AU) and as an advisor to Palau International Coral Reef Center and the Maldives Marine Research Institute.

    He is now a Senior Research Scientist with us based in Brisbane.

    Chris leads multiple coral larvae research projects as part of the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program, which aims to find large-scale solutions to help the Reef recover from the impacts of climate change.

    “It’s all about building on our ecological knowledge – understanding those early interactions – and thinking about and testing how we can use coral larvae to restore the Reef,” he said.

    “I love breaking things down into tiny detailed chunks, like fertilisation, larval development, larval settlement, and early coral growth and survival. Then, investigating how each stage responds to different interactions and disturbances.

    “We can utilise this information to predict and test what happens at larger scales,” he said.

    Professor Peter Harrison of Southern Cross University (AU) (left) with his research assistant Christina Langley and Christopher. Credit: Southern Cross University.

    Teamwork makes the dream work

    Chris co-leads the Moving Corals Project, where coral larvae are grown in floating pools. Credit: Gary Cranitch, Queensland Museum.

    Chris has a desire to understand more about reef ecology. He’s also motivated and inspired by his mentors and the teams of people he works with from multiple fields that allow for experiments and trials to operate at unprecedented scales.

    “This work has really highlighted the value of working with experts from different areas to try and achieve effective scaling for coral restoration. This teamwork has really broaden my thoughts and confidence in just how possible it really is,” he said.

    Another draw card is the Reef itself

    “It’s so massive and incredible and full of life. For those of us who live in Australia, we are so fortunate to have it on our doorstep. We need to continually improve how we treat and respect it for long-term sustainability,” Chris said.

    “With climate change pressures constantly ramping up, it’s increasingly stressed. We can’t wait for the system to collapse because then it will be too late.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO (AU)-Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation , is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

    CSIRO works with leading organisations around the world. From its headquarters in Canberra, CSIRO maintains more than 50 sites across Australia and in France, Chile and the United States, employing about 5,500 people.

    Federally funded scientific research began in Australia 104 years ago. The Advisory Council of Science and Industry was established in 1916 but was hampered by insufficient available finance. In 1926 the research effort was reinvigorated by establishment of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which strengthened national science leadership and increased research funding. CSIR grew rapidly and achieved significant early successes. In 1949 further legislated changes included renaming the organisation as CSIRO.

    Notable developments by CSIRO have included the invention of atomic absorption spectroscopy; essential components of Wi-Fi technology; development of the first commercially successful polymer banknote; the invention of the insect repellent in Aerogard and the introduction of a series of biological controls into Australia, such as the introduction of myxomatosis and rabbit calicivirus for the control of rabbit populations.

    Research and focus areas

    Research Business Units

    As at 2019, CSIRO’s research areas are identified as “Impact science” and organised into the following Business Units:

    Agriculture and Food
    Health and Biosecurity
    Data 61
    Land and Water
    Mineral Resources
    Oceans and Atmosphere

    National Facilities

    CSIRO manages national research facilities and scientific infrastructure on behalf of the nation to assist with the delivery of research. The national facilities and specialized laboratories are available to both international and Australian users from industry and research. As at 2019, the following National Facilities are listed:

    Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL)
    Australia Telescope National Facility – radio telescopes included in the Facility include the Australia Telescope Compact Array, the Parkes Observatory, Mopra Observatory and the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder.

    STCA CSIRO Australia Compact Array (AU), six radio telescopes at the Paul Wild Observatory, is an array of six 22-m antennas located about twenty five kilometres (16 mi) west of the town of Narrabri in Australia.

    CSIRO-Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (AU) Parkes Observatory, [ Murriyang, the traditional Indigenous name] , located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia, 414.80m above sea level.

    CSIRO-Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (AU) Mopra radio telescope

    Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder

    NASA Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, AU, Deep Space Network. Credit: The National Aeronautics and Space Agency (US)

    CSIRO Canberra campus

    ESA DSA 1, hosts a 35-metre deep-space antenna with transmission and reception in both S- and X-band and is located 140 kilometres north of Perth, Western Australia, near the town of New Norcia

    CSIRO-Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (AU)CSIRO R/V Investigator.

    UK Space NovaSAR-1 satellite (UK) synthetic aperture radar satellite.

    CSIRO Pawsey Supercomputing Centre AU)

    Magnus Cray XC40 supercomputer at Pawsey Supercomputer Centre Perth Australia

    Galaxy Cray XC30 Series Supercomputer at at Pawsey Supercomputer Centre Perth Australia

    Pausey Supercomputer CSIRO Zeus SGI Linux cluster

    Others not shown


    SKA- Square Kilometer Array

    SKA Square Kilometre Array low frequency at Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia on the traditional lands of the Wajarri peoples.

    EDGES telescope in a radio quiet zone at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia, on the traditional lands of the Wajarri peoples.

  • richardmitnick 10:04 pm on November 23, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New possibilities for life at the bottom of Earth's ocean and perhaps in oceans on other planets", Around hydrothermal vents on the seafloor hot fluids mix with extremely cold seawater to produce conditions where making the molecules of life releases energy.”, In the strange dark world of the ocean floor underwater fissures-called hydrothermal vents-host complex communities of life., , Marine Microbiology, New possibilities for life in the dark at the bottom of oceans on Earth as well as throughout the solar system., So there are two opposing energy flows: release of energy by biosynthesis of basic building blocks and the energy required for polymerization., , This finding provides a new perspective on not only biochemistry but also ecology because it suggests that certain groups of organisms are inherently more favored in specific hydrothermal environments, Where there is life there is water but water needs to be driven out of the system for polymerization to become favorable.   

    From The Arizona State University (US) : “New possibilities for life at the bottom of Earth’s ocean and perhaps in oceans on other planets” 

    From The Arizona State University (US)

    November 22, 2021

    Karin Valentine
    Media Relations & Marketing manager
    School of Earth and Space Exploration

    In the strange dark world of the ocean floor underwater fissures-called hydrothermal vents-host complex communities of life. These vents belch scorching hot fluids into extremely cold seawater, creating the chemical forces necessary for the small organisms that inhabit this extreme environment to live.

    In a newly published study, biogeoscientists Jeffrey Dick and Everett Shock have determined that specific hydrothermal seafloor environments provide a unique habitat where certain organisms can thrive. In so doing, they have opened up new possibilities for life in the dark at the bottom of oceans on Earth as well as throughout the solar system. Their results have been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences.

    A chimney structure from the Sea Cliff hydrothermal vent field located more than 8,800 feet (2,700 meters) below the sea’s surface at the submarine boundary of the Pacific and Gorda tectonic plates. Photo by Ocean Exploration Trust.

    On land, when organisms get energy out of the food they eat, they do so through a process called cellular respiration, where there is an intake of oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide. Biologically speaking, the molecules in our food are unstable in the presence of oxygen, and it is that instability that is harnessed by our cells to grow and reproduce, a process called biosynthesis.

    But for organisms living on the seafloor, the conditions for life are dramatically different.

    “On land, in the oxygen-rich atmosphere of Earth, it is familiar to many people that making the molecules of life requires energy,” said co-author Shock of Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School of Molecular Sciences. “In stunning contrast, around hydrothermal vents on the seafloor hot fluids mix with extremely cold seawater to produce conditions where making the molecules of life releases energy.”

    In deep-sea microbial ecosystems, organisms thrive near vents where hydrothermal fluid mixes with ambient seawater. Previous research [Geofluids] led by Shock found that the biosynthesis of basic cellular building blocks, like amino acids and sugars, is particularly favorable in areas where the vents are composed of ultramafic rock (igneous and meta-igneous rocks with very low silica content), because these rocks produce the most hydrogen.

    Besides basic building blocks like amino acids and sugars, cells need to form larger molecules, or polymers, also known as biomacromolecules. Proteins are the most abundant of these molecules in cells, and the polymerization reaction (where small molecules combine to produce a larger biomolecule) itself requires energy in almost all conceivable environments.

    “In other words, where there is life there is water but water needs to be driven out of the system for polymerization to become favorable,” said lead author Dick, who was a postdoctoral scholar at ASU when this research began and who is currently a geochemistry researcher in the School of Geosciences and Info-Physics at Central South University [中南大学(CN). “So there are two opposing energy flows: release of energy by biosynthesis of basic building blocks and the energy required for polymerization.”

    What Dick and Shock wanted to know is what happens when you add them up: Do you get proteins whose overall synthesis is actually favorable in the mixing zone?

    They approached this problem by using a unique combination of theory and data.

    From the theoretical side, they used a thermodynamic model for the proteins, called “group additivity,” which accounts for the specific amino acids in protein sequences as well as the polymerization energies. For the data, they used all the protein sequences in an entire genome of a well-studied vent organism called Methanocaldococcus jannaschii.

    By running the calculations, they were able to show that the overall synthesis of almost all the proteins in the genome releases energy in the mixing zone of an ultramafic-hosted vent at the temperature where this organism grows the fastest, at around 185 degrees Fahrenheit (85 Celsius). By contrast, in a different vent system that produces less hydrogen (a basalt-hosted system), the synthesis of proteins is not favorable.

    “This finding provides a new perspective on not only biochemistry but also ecology because it suggests that certain groups of organisms are inherently more favored in specific hydrothermal environments,” Dick said. “Microbial ecology studies have found that methanogens, of which Methanocaldococcus jannaschii is one representative, are more abundant in ultramafic-hosted vent systems than in basalt-hosted systems. The favorable energetics of protein synthesis in ultramafic-hosted systems are consistent with that distribution.”

    For next steps, Dick and Shock are looking at ways to use these energetic calculations across the tree of life, which they hope will provide a firmer link between geochemistry and genome evolution.

    “As we explore, we’re reminded time and again that we should never equate where we live as what is habitable to life,” Shock said.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Arizona State University (US) is a public research university in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Founded in 1885 by the 13th Arizona Territorial Legislature, Arizona State University is one of the largest public universities by enrollment in the U.S.

    One of three universities governed by the Arizona Board of Regents, Arizona State University is a member of the Universities Research Association (US) and classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity.” Arizona State University has nearly 150,000 students attending classes, with more than 38,000 students attending online, and 90,000 undergraduates and more nearly 20,000 postgraduates across its five campuses and four regional learning centers throughout Arizona. Arizona State University offers 350 degree options from its 17 colleges and more than 170 cross-discipline centers and institutes for undergraduates students, as well as more than 400 graduate degree and certificate programs. The Arizona State Sun Devils compete in 26 varsity-level sports in the NCAA Division I Pac-12 Conference and is home to over 1,100 registered student organizations.

    Arizona State University’s charter, approved by the board of regents in 2014, is based on the New American University model created by Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow upon his appointment as the institution’s 16th president in 2002. It defines Arizona State University as “a comprehensive public research university, measured not by whom it excludes, but rather by whom it includes and how they succeed; advancing research and discovery of public value; and assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.” The model is widely credited with boosting Arizona State University’s acceptance rate and increasing class size.

    The university’s faculty of more than 4,700 scholars has included 5 Nobel laureates, 6 Pulitzer Prize winners, 4 MacArthur Fellows, and 19 National Academy of Sciences members. Additionally, among the faculty are 180 Fulbright Program American Scholars, 72 National Endowment for the Humanities fellows, 38 American Council of Learned Societies fellows, 36 members of the Guggenheim Fellowship, 21 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 3 members of National Academy of Inventors, 9 National Academy of Engineering members and 3 National Academy of Medicine members. The National Academies has bestowed “highly prestigious” recognition on 227 ASU faculty members.


    Arizona State University was established as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe on March 12, 1885, when the 13th Arizona Territorial Legislature passed an act to create a normal school to train teachers for the Arizona Territory. The campus consisted of a single, four-room schoolhouse on a 20-acre plot largely donated by Tempe residents George and Martha Wilson. Classes began with 33 students on February 8, 1886. The curriculum evolved over the years and the name was changed several times; the institution was also known as Tempe Normal School of Arizona (1889–1903), Tempe Normal School (1903–1925), Tempe State Teachers College (1925–1929), Arizona State Teachers College (1929–1945), Arizona State College (1945–1958) and, by a 2–1 margin of the state’s voters, Arizona State University in 1958.

    In 1923, the school stopped offering high school courses and added a high school diploma to the admissions requirements. In 1925, the school became the Tempe State Teachers College and offered four-year Bachelor of Education degrees as well as two-year teaching certificates. In 1929, the 9th Arizona State Legislature authorized Bachelor of Arts in Education degrees as well, and the school was renamed the Arizona State Teachers College. Under the 30-year tenure of president Arthur John Matthews (1900–1930), the school was given all-college student status. The first dormitories built in the state were constructed under his supervision in 1902. Of the 18 buildings constructed while Matthews was president, six are still in use. Matthews envisioned an “evergreen campus,” with many shrubs brought to the campus, and implemented the planting of 110 Mexican Fan Palms on what is now known as Palm Walk, a century-old landmark of the Tempe campus.

    During the Great Depression, Ralph Waldo Swetman was hired to succeed President Matthews, coming to Arizona State Teachers College in 1930 from Humboldt State Teachers College where he had served as president. He served a three-year term, during which he focused on improving teacher-training programs. During his tenure, enrollment at the college doubled, topping the 1,000 mark for the first time. Matthews also conceived of a self-supported summer session at the school at Arizona State Teachers College, a first for the school.


    In 1933, Grady Gammage, then president of Arizona State Teachers College at Flagstaff, became president of Arizona State Teachers College at Tempe, beginning a tenure that would last for nearly 28 years, second only to Swetman’s 30 years at the college’s helm. Like President Arthur John Matthews before him, Gammage oversaw the construction of several buildings on the Tempe campus. He also guided the development of the university’s graduate programs; the first Master of Arts in Education was awarded in 1938, the first Doctor of Education degree in 1954 and 10 non-teaching master’s degrees were approved by the Arizona Board of Regents in 1956. During his presidency, the school’s name was changed to Arizona State College in 1945, and finally to Arizona State University in 1958. At the time, two other names were considered: Tempe University and State University at Tempe. Among Gammage’s greatest achievements in Tempe was the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed construction of what is Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium/ASU Gammage. One of the university’s hallmark buildings, Arizona State University Gammage was completed in 1964, five years after the president’s (and Wright’s) death.

    Gammage was succeeded by Harold D. Richardson, who had served the school earlier in a variety of roles beginning in 1939, including director of graduate studies, college registrar, dean of instruction, dean of the College of Education and academic vice president. Although filling the role of acting president of the university for just nine months (Dec. 1959 to Sept. 1960), Richardson laid the groundwork for the future recruitment and appointment of well-credentialed research science faculty.

    By the 1960s, under G. Homer Durham, the university’s 11th president, Arizona State University began to expand its curriculum by establishing several new colleges and, in 1961, the Arizona Board of Regents authorized doctoral degree programs in six fields, including Doctor of Philosophy. By the end of his nine-year tenure, Arizona State University had more than doubled enrollment, reporting 23,000 in 1969.

    The next three presidents—Harry K. Newburn (1969–71), John W. Schwada (1971–81) and J. Russell Nelson (1981–89), including and Interim President Richard Peck (1989), led the university to increased academic stature, the establishment of the Arizona State University West campus in 1984 and its subsequent construction in 1986, a focus on computer-assisted learning and research, and rising enrollment.


    Under the leadership of Lattie F. Coor, president from 1990 to 2002, Arizona State University grew through the creation of the Polytechnic campus and extended education sites. Increased commitment to diversity, quality in undergraduate education, research, and economic development occurred over his 12-year tenure. Part of Coor’s legacy to the university was a successful fundraising campaign: through private donations, more than $500 million was invested in areas that would significantly impact the future of ASU. Among the campaign’s achievements were the naming and endowing of Barrett, The Honors College, and the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts; the creation of many new endowed faculty positions; and hundreds of new scholarships and fellowships.

    In 2002, Michael M. Crow became the university’s 16th president. At his inauguration, he outlined his vision for transforming Arizona State University into a “New American University”—one that would be open and inclusive, and set a goal for the university to meet Association of American Universities (US) criteria and to become a member. Crow initiated the idea of transforming Arizona State University into “One university in many places”—a single institution comprising several campuses, sharing students, faculty, staff and accreditation. Subsequent reorganizations combined academic departments, consolidated colleges and schools, and reduced staff and administration as the university expanded its West and Polytechnic campuses. Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus was also expanded, with several colleges and schools relocating there. The university established learning centers throughout the state, including the Arizona State University Colleges at Lake Havasu City and programs in Thatcher, Yuma, and Tucson. Students at these centers can choose from several Arizona State University degree and certificate programs.

    During Crow’s tenure, and aided by hundreds of millions of dollars in donations, Arizona State University began a years-long research facility capital building effort that led to the establishment of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, and several large interdisciplinary research buildings. Along with the research facilities, the university faculty was expanded, including the addition of five Nobel Laureates. Since 2002, the university’s research expenditures have tripled and more than 1.5 million square feet of space has been added to the university’s research facilities.

    The economic downturn that began in 2008 took a particularly hard toll on Arizona, resulting in large cuts to Arizona State University’s budget. In response to these cuts, Arizona State University capped enrollment, closed some four dozen academic programs, combined academic departments, consolidated colleges and schools, and reduced university faculty, staff and administrators; however, with an economic recovery underway in 2011, the university continued its campaign to expand the West and Polytechnic Campuses, and establish a low-cost, teaching-focused extension campus in Lake Havasu City.

    As of 2011, an article in Slate reported that, “the bottom line looks good,” noting that:

    “Since Crow’s arrival, Arizona State University’s research funding has almost tripled to nearly $350 million. Degree production has increased by 45 percent. And thanks to an ambitious aid program, enrollment of students from Arizona families below poverty is up 647 percent.”

    In 2015, the Thunderbird School of Global Management became the fifth Arizona State University campus, as the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. Partnerships for education and research with Mayo Clinic established collaborative degree programs in health care and law, and shared administrator positions, laboratories and classes at the Mayo Clinic Arizona campus.

    The Beus Center for Law and Society, the new home of Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, opened in fall 2016 on the Downtown Phoenix campus, relocating faculty and students from the Tempe campus to the state capital.

  • richardmitnick 10:40 am on August 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Probiotics for corals boost resilience and help prevent mortality", , , King Abdulla University of Science and Technology جامعة الملك عبد الله للعلو[والتقنيةه‎, , Marine Microbiology   

    From King Abdulla University of Science and Technology جامعة الملك عبد الله للعلو[والتقنيةه‎: “Probiotics for corals boost resilience and help prevent mortality” 

    From King Abdulla University of Science and Technology جامعة الملك عبد الله للعلو[والتقنيةه‎

    Aug 15, 2021

    KAUST Marine Scientist Dr. Raquel Peixoto administers probiotics, or Beneficial Microorganisms for Corals (BMC), to coral in controlled aquarium environments. Photo: KAUST.

    As more coral reefs around the world suffer from bleaching and mass mortality due to warming ocean temperatures and related climate change conditions, good news about reefs is welcome news. A new study [Science Advances] shows probiotics to be helpful protagonists in boosting coral health and preventing mortality in the face of environmental stressors. Lead authors from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) are Dr. Raquel S. Peixoto, associate professor, Dr. Erika P. Santoro, postdoctoral fellow, and Dr. Helena D. M. Villela, research scientist.

    Beneficial microorganisms

    Published in Science Advances, August 13, 2021, the paper finds that Beneficial Microorganisms for Corals (BMC) help corals recover from thermal stress in a number of ways, chiefly by stimulating immune processes that help them rebuild their microbiome environment and offset post-heat stress disorder (PHSD) symptoms driven by thermal stress. It details research conducted at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro or University of Brazil [Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro or Universidade do Brasil] (BR) (UFRJ), Brazil, where the scientists were formerly affiliated, and includes analytical data from subsequent tests done at the KAUST Red Sea Research Center.

    A healthy symbiotic relationship between the coral host and algae that live in the coral is the foundation of reef ecosystems and helps keep reefs in stasis. Photo: NEOM.

    The paper is the first of its kind to show that probiotic “medicine” can protect bleached corals from death. The study received funding from the Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s Out of the Blue Box Reef Innovation Challenge, which called for new ideas to protect coral reefs. It was supported by the Tiffany & Co Foundation.

    Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden said, “Pioneering science such as this provides hope for the future of the Great Barrier Reef and coral reefs globally, which are coming under increasing pressure from climate change.”

    A need for protection

    The photosynthetic algae that live in coral polyps produce more than 80% of the carbon compounds that corals use as a source of energy. They also give the corals their signature color. In return, corals provide protection and nutrients. This symbiotic relationship is the foundation of reef ecosystems and helps keep reefs in stasis.

    Coral bleaching is a dire phenomenon afflicting reefs around the world. Scientists theorize that high temperatures and light damage the photosynthetic apparatus of the algae, causing them to produce high amounts of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are highly reactive and toxic to both the algae and coral host.

    Under these circumstances, corals can expel the algae. If they do, the corals’ energy (and color) drains, and they slowly starve if conditions persist. Bleaching is a signpost of this process. Depending on the duration of the thermal event and whether conditions improve, the algae will either return or not.

    KAUST Marine Scientist Dr. Raquel Peixoto discusses the important role probiotics play in coral recovery; shown here in the Marine Microbiomes Lab at KAUST. Photo: J. West/KAUST.

    Peixoto believes that the probiotics buy corals time to recover so that the algae will stay for a longer period of time or more quickly return after a bleaching event. She first conceived the idea of using probiotics to protect corals based on research results from a previous project in Brazil, led by another KAUST faculty, Dr. Alexandre Rosado, that involved helping mangrove ecosystems recover from oil spills. For that, she developed probiotic pills from plant bacteria that degraded oil, and that plant roots could absorb through the sediment. To her surprise, the formula not only broke down the oil, but made the plants grow stronger and faster.

    “I knew that the pills we selected could degrade the oil, but was astonished by the extent to which they also promoted hormone growth and immune responses in the plants,” she said. “Based on the plants’ recovery, I wondered if probiotics could do the same for corals. At the time, there wasn’t any literature about how to manipulate beneficial coral bacteria, which are different from that of plants. There was no recipe for me to follow. When I couldn’t find it in the literature, I decided to create it.”

    Formula for success

    The study centered on Mussismilia hispida, a coral species endemic to Brazil.

    KAUST marine scientists create a potent probiotic from “coral juice,” a solution of seawater containing fragments of coral itself and the microorganisms that live in the coral. From this mixture, bacteria strains are selected for their genetic and metabolic potential to serve as probiotics, or Beneficial Microorganisms for Corals (BMC). Photo: J West/KAUST.

    It demonstrated that corals change their bacterial association when exposed to different environmental conditions. Based on their findings, the researchers created a potent probiotic using the coral itself and its associated microbes. To this end, they ground and soaked fragments of the coral in a solution of seawater, a process that released the bacteria that live in the tissue, skeleton and other coral compartments. From this “coral juice,” they isolated, plated, and studied hundreds of bacteria strains for their genetic and metabolic potential to serve as BMCs.

    The team then selected six or so of these strains for traits deemed likeliest to activate the corals’ natural immune responses. For example, some bacteria are natural antagonists to pathogens; others, able to scavenge and degrade ROS, recycle nitrogen, or generate nutrients for corals. Such traits are advantageous in a BMC formula. The best bacteria strains comprise the probiotic formula, as do fungi and yeast, also part of the coral’s microbiome. Peixoto said that a holistic formula equips the corals with hearty traits for buffering and surviving heat trauma.

    Data comparisons

    Working with two groups of corals in controlled aquarium environments — those inoculated with probiotics and those with a placebo — the scientists exposed the corals to the same degree of thermal stress. Whereas all corals initially bleached and showed signs of inflammation, those with BMCs survived and recovered; those without, died.

    Peixoto commented, “There was a significant difference in the expression of specific genetic traits when we compared the two groups. We could see from the physiological response that all corals suffered some degree of thermal stress, but those inoculated with BMCs recovered and returned to their original state, with results similar to corals that had not been exposed at all. Corals that did not receive BMCs sustained strong damage or ultimately died. These results indicate that coral probiotics increase coral recovery and their likelihood of surviving heat stress.”

    By mapping and comparing changes between the two coral groups, the researchers could also see changes at the cellular level, such as how the lipids, membranes and other coral structures responded. In this way, Peixoto said that the metabolite results aligned with the physiological data. Probiotics increased the overall stability and survivorship in the symbiotic algae-coral host relationship by more than 40%.

    It is this alignment of data across scales that former KAUST faculty member Dr. Christian Voolstra said makes the study foundational. Voolstra brings expertise in reef genomics and big data analysis. A close collaborator with Peixoto since 2016, he developed the analytical frameworks for the study and helped interpret the data.

    “The study is remarkable for demonstrating what we call genetic reprogramming. By this I don’t mean that we are editing the genes, quite the opposite,” he said. “Rather, we are borrowing beneficial microbes that evolved in harmony with the reef, and are offering them to the corals. The selected microbes aren’t superimposing their functions onto the host; they’re prompting the coral to make beneficial changes at the genetic level. This is a key understanding about the mechanisms underlying coral probiotics that was not known before.”

    Red Sea research

    Now at KAUST, and encouraged by the data from the Brazil study, Peixoto and team have extended the experiment to include Pocillopora verrucosa, a species of stony coral common to the Red Sea and reefs in other parts of the world. They chose Pocillopora for a number of reasons: its genomic sequence is already known; they previously worked on this species in tank experiments; it grows fast and is abundant in the Red Sea; and literature is widely available. In this regard, Pocillopora is a model organism to study. The process of creating probiotics for Red Sea Pocillopora is the same as that used for M. hispida, only they are from Pocillopora microorganisms and material isolated from the Red Sea.

    KAUST marine scientists study the effects of probiotics on Pocillopora verrucosa, a species of stony coral common to the Red Sea. Photo: KAUST.

    The experimental phase at KAUST is completed, and the scientists are preparing to test the probiotics on living corals in the Red Sea using controlled pilot approaches. This will be the first time an experiment of this nature has been conducted in the natural laboratory of the sea.

    Microbiologist and Postdoctoral Fellow Erika Santoro brings expertise in host-microbiome interactions. Her involvement centered on analyzing and selecting strains for use in the probiotic, and subsequently assessing coral behavior.

    “Working with biological systems is challenging and sometimes brings unexpected results; things go wrong, but things go right,” she said. “When you see from the experiments that our hard work actually helped the corals to survive, it is the best feeling and worth all the long hours. That’s why I’m in science.”

    Taking the work to the sea

    Peixoto selected a marine site near KAUST where Pocillopora is the dominant coral species, and with qualities suitable for replicating in the controls — small patches of corals, or mini reefs, to better control the inoculation and monitor it over time. Bacterial probiotics will be inoculated in the form of pills, or beads, with the healthy bacteria, immobilized within. The scientists will distribute the beads to the designated corals. They will slowly dissolve in the salty sea, releasing the microorganisms in a cloud of probiotics that the corals will then absorb. Treatment is slated for late August, 2021.

    KAUST Marine Scientist Dr. Raquel Peixoto administers probiotics, or Beneficial Microorganisms for Corals (BMC), to coral in controlled aquarium environments. Photo: KAUST

    ​As more coral reefs around the world suffer from bleaching and mass mortality due to warming ocean temperatures and related climate change conditions, good news about reefs is welcome news. A new study, Coral microbiome manipulation elicits metabolic and genetic restructuring to mitigate heat stress and evade mortality, shows probiotics to be helpful protagonists in boosting coral health and preventing mortality in the face of environmental stressors. Lead authors from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) are Dr. Raquel S. Peixoto, associate professor, Dr. Erika P. Santoro, postdoctoral fellow, and Dr. Helena D. M. Villela, research scientist.

    KAUST Marine Research Scientist Helena Villela, who worked with Peixoto in Brazil on the oil degradation project and subsequent coral studies, commented:

    “Taking our research to the sea is a huge step for us, and we are prepared. The experimental site is well documented, well controlled, and all corals have been tagged.”

    Villela said that both their treatment and post-treatment measurement approaches are unique because they factor more than the health of the coral; they consider the total holobiont — the microorganisms in association with the coral, i.e., the algae, fungi, bacteria and other microbes that live there. “A healthy microbiome indicates a healthy holobiont, which will likely reflect in a healthy reef,” she said.

    Future Scenarios

    How often the corals will need to be inoculated after the initial exposure is an unknown at this time. Peixoto said they are investigating whether the inoculations can promote epigenetic change or some kind of adaptation that could be permanent and passed on to the next generation.

    She hopes to expand the project on a larger scale to reefs within the Red Sea and also those in other parts of the world, should the pilot approaches prove to be safe and efficient. Whether or not bacteria from a coral species in the Red Sea environment will work on the same coral in a different environment is a question that she and the team hope to answer. She said it’s an undeveloped area of exploration, but that it is possible.

    “We have the goal to select probiotics that can be used in different places with different species, but we need to start slowly by first understanding the effects of the probiotics on the local reef and its microbiome,” she said. “It’s part of our framework of sustainable and smart development of techniques to move safely and responsibly. If it works, then we go from here. I truly think microbes rule the world because they provide the cycle of nutrients that all life forms depend on for survival.”

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) (جامعة الملك عبد الله للعلوم و التقنية ) is a private research university located in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. Founded in 2009, the university provides research and graduate training programs in English as the official language of instruction.

    KAUST is the first mixed-gender university campus in Saudi Arabia. In 2013, the university was among the 500 fastest growing research and citation records in the world. In the 2016 Nature Index Rising Stars, the university ranked 19th in the world of the fastest rising universities for high quality research output. In 2019 KAUST is ranked 8th fastest rising young universities (aged 50 and under) for their research output since 2015, as measured by fractional count (FC).

    In 2006, Ali Al-Naimi chaired a Saudi Aramco team to undertake the building and planning of the academics. Nadhmi Al-Nasr was chosen to lead the project. They employed the Washington Advisory Group’s Frank H. T. Rhodes and Frank Press to design the academic structure, SRI International to develop the four research institutes, and the architectural firm of HOK for the campus master plan, which included wind towers and solar panels. The location of the campus at Thuwal included 16.4 sq km on land and 19.6 sq km of marine sanctuary offshore. Ground breaking took place in Oct. 2007, and 178 scholarships were awarded in Jan. 2008.[1]

    KAUST officially opened on September 23, 2009 at an inauguration ceremony, where King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud gave a speech where he stated that places like the University that “embrace all people are the first line of defence against extremists”. The University initially received a $10 billion endowment. Upon opening, the University admitted 400 students from over 60 countries and 70 faculty. The campus is home to Shaheen, Asia’s fastest supercomputer.

    Shaheen II Cray XC-40 supercomputer at KAUST

  • richardmitnick 12:06 pm on July 31, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Eerie Bioluminescence That Creates 'Milky Sea' Revealed in New Satellite Study", , , Colorado State University (US), , Marine Microbiology, ,   

    From Colorado State University (US) via Science Alert (US) : “Eerie Bioluminescence That Creates ‘Milky Sea’ Revealed in New Satellite Study” 

    From Colorado State University (US)



    Science Alert (US)

    30 JULY 2021

    Not the actual ‘milky sea’ phenomenon. (Alyssa Boobyer/Unsplash)

    Credit: Mysterious World. (Illumination of glowing wave, Krabi, Thailand.)
    Milky Sea effect is referred to an unusual marine phenomenon in the ocean in which a large amount of sea water appears to glow brightly at night.This effect is caused by some bioluminescent bacteria or dinoflagellates, causing the sea to uniformly display an eerie blue glow at night. This effect is so bright that it can also been seen from space.

    This phenomenon is observed from many centuries and is notably mentioned in 1870 novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.

    In 1995, a British merchant vessel in the Arabian Sea took water samples during milky seas. The captain and his crew were surrounded by glowing water that “appeared to cover the entire sea area, from horizon to horizon.” And knowing that it took them full six hours to cross from one edge of the glowing water to the other, it was quite the eerie scene. Their conclusions were that the effect was caused by the bacteria Vibrio harveyi.

    The ocean is vast, and deep, and dark, and inhospitable to us feeble land-dwelling creatures. There’s much that remains unknown or poorly understood in its roiling, seething belly.

    Technology is changing that.

    For over a century, mariners have reported an eerily beautiful phenomenon they called the “milky sea” – enormous patches of glowing water that sometimes persist for several nights in a row. It wasn’t until 2005 that this phenomenon was finally confirmed – in the form of photographs taken from a satellite in low-Earth orbit.

    Now scientists have used nearly a decade’s worth of satellite data to reveal the phenomenon in detail. Although much remains to be discovered, we’ve made some important steps towards understanding the largest known form of bioluminescence on Earth.

    In his 1872 novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas, Jules Verne wrote “It is called a milk sea .. a large extent of white wavelets often to be seen on the coasts of Amboyna .. the whiteness which surprises you is caused only by the presence of myriads of infusoria, a sort of luminous little worm”.

    The worm was conjecture on Verne’s part, but milky seas are otherwise real. Patches of this phenomenon can be larger than 100,000 square kilometers (around 39,000 square miles), and have been reported a great deal in the last century or so: 235 sightings were cataloged between 1915 and 1993, which suggests an occurrence rate of at least thrice per year.

    However, only once has a research vessel managed to sail through one, in 1985 in the Arabian Sea.

    The water they collected contained, among other organisms, a bioluminescent marine bacterium called Vibrio harveyi; the researchers aboard the vessel concluded this was likely the source of the glow, but some features remained unexplained. In addition, their conclusions are yet to be verified.

    The problems with verification are several. Milky seas occur in remote locations, primarily; and they are unpredictable, which means getting a research vessel in position prior to the appearance of one is nigh impossible. Now, using satellite imaging, a team of scientists led by marine biologist Steven Miller of Colorado State University hopes to fill in the gaps.

    The NOAA’s Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 are two weather satellites equipped with a variety of sensors, including an instrument called the Day/Night Band. This sensor is designed to capture low-light emission sources, under a variety of illumination conditions.

    NOAA-20 satellite.

    This means it’s uniquely able to see faintly glowing patches of sea that other instruments might not. Sure enough, when Miller and his colleagues examined the Day/Night Band data for three commonly reported milky sea locations between 2012 and 2021, they found 12 instances of the phenomenon.

    A three-night sequence from 2018 showing a milky sea in the Somali Sea. Credit: Miller et al., Sci. Rep., 2021.

    The Day/Night Band continues to amaze me with its ability to reveal light features of the night,” Miller said. “Like Captain Ahab of Moby-Dick, the pursuit of these bioluminescent milky seas has been my personal ‘white whale’ of sorts for many years.”

    The glow has long been known to be a strange one. Unlike bioluminescent algae, which discharge flashes of light in a warning signal in response to being disturbed and often appear in tumbling waves and turbulent ship wakes, milky seas glow wide and steady. We don’t know how they form, or why, or how the glow is composed and structured.

    The team’s data revealed that milky seas seem to resonate with the monsoons in the northwest Indian Ocean, which produces cool upwellings of nutrient-rich water, but no such monsoonal association was apparent in the Maritime Continent region.

    This means that some other process could be providing nutrient upwellings when the milky seas appear there.

    They also found that the bioluminescence remained stable and steady in choppy waters, which would not occur if the glow was confined to a surface slick. This suggests a well-mixed layer of water that contains the glowing organisms.

    Physically sampling milky seas will, of course, help solve the mystery once and for all. The team hopes that their satellite data will show us the way to find them more easily.

    “Milky seas are simply marvelous expressions of our biosphere whose significance in nature we have not yet fathomed,” Miller said.

    “Their very being spins an unlikely and compelling tale that ties the surface to the skies, the microscopic to the global scales, and the human experience and technology across the ages; from merchant ships of the 18th century to spaceships of the modern day. The Day/Night Band has lit yet another pathway to scientific discovery.”

    The research has been published in Scientific Reports.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    From Colorado State University (US) is a public research university in the U.S. state of Colorado. The university is the state’s land grant university, and the flagship university of the Colorado State University System.

    The current enrollment is approximately 37,198 students, including resident and non-resident instruction students and the University is planning on having 42,000 students by 2020. The university has approximately 2,000 faculty in eight colleges and 55 academic departments. Bachelor’s degrees are offered in 65 fields of study, with master’s degrees in 55 fields. Colorado State confers doctoral degrees in 40 fields of study, in addition to a professional degree in veterinary medicine.

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
%d bloggers like this: