Ocean lung..a unique symbiotic relationship that helps absorb more carbon dioxide

Tropical rainforests are the lungs of our planet; They absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and exhale oxygen instead. However, there are other, more functional lungs found in the oceans that we don’t know much about.

Seagrass meadows extend vast areas underwater, as these plants are able to absorb carbon 35 times faster than tropical rainforests.

These ecosystems, along with the vegetation found in the icy plains known as tundra, are among the world’s largest carbon sinks. However, we know little about what makes these systems more efficient at sequestering carbon.

New normal lung

Recently, she indicated study Research – published in the journal “Nature” on the third of November – indicated that marine meadows would not have absorbed carbon with this efficiency without the presence of another hero hiding inside them.

and according to للبيان In response to the study, the researchers reported that there is a new type of bacteria – known as “Celerinatantimonas neptuna” that lives in the roots of the “Posidonia oceanica” plant. Which is endemic to the Mediterranean – can convert nitrogen into a nutrient used by marine plants in the process of photosynthesis.

The new bacteria live in the roots of the oceanic Poseidon plant that inhabits the Mediterranean (Wikipedia – Frederic Ducarme)

Although what these bacteria do in the deep sea is quite similar to how plants on Earth absorb nitrogen, this symbiotic relationship between marine plants and bacteria has never been discovered before.

This study focused on only one type of seaweed found in the Mediterranean. However, the researchers expect similar relationships to what they have discovered elsewhere, due to the presence of relatives of the aforementioned family of bacteria in other regions around the world.

symbiotic relationship

Regarding this symbiotic relationship, Webeck Mohr, a marine microbiologist at the Max Planck Institute, says that “it has long been thought that bacteria that live around the roots of seaweeds on the sea floor are responsible for the nitrogen fixation process.”

“The relationship between plants and bacteria is close. Bacteria live inside the roots of seaweed. This is the first time that this kind of close coexistence between plants and bacteria has been shown,” he says.

Using modern techniques that can identify the new bacteria, the researchers discovered that the same plant can store eight times more carbon dioxide than the sandy sediments surrounding seagrass plants. The plants were able to store this amount even if the nitrogenous nutrients were absent around them.

The symbiosis under the microscope: On the left a cross-section through a seagrass root, on the right a fluorescence image of the bacteria (in pink) inside the seagrass root. Daniela Tienken/Soeren Ahmerkamp /Max Planck Institute for Marine MicrobiologyThe microbes in the roots of plants differ from the microbes in the surrounding sediments (communication sites)

mutual benefit

In addition, the researchers discovered that the microbes in the roots of plants differ from the microbes in the surrounding sediments.

The difference appears to be due to only one type of bacteria that the team found in large quantities in the roots of seaweed during the summer (that is, when nitrogen is more scarce). And then the nitrogen moves – once obtained by these bacteria in the roots – to the rest of the plant parts.

The researchers note that “20% of the newly installed nitrogen in the roots enters the formation of biomass in the plant leaf within 24 hours.”

In return for this benefit that the plant acquires from the bacteria, the researchers believe that plants provide the bacteria with sugars, a symbiotic relationship that research has not previously indicated.

The researchers are currently studying this type of root bacteria in the laboratory with the aim of learning more details about how nitrogen is fixed. They are also trying to discover whether a similar symbiotic relationship exists in any other seaweed around the world.

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