Food source threatened by carbon dioxide

Dec 10, 2007

Carbon dioxide increasing in the atmosphere may affect the microbial life in the sea, which could have an impact on a major food source, warned Dr Ian Joint at a Science Media Centre press briefing today.

Dr Joint is sequencing the DNA of different ocean bacteria to find out how they will respond to an increase in carbon dioxide. “So far from one experiment we have sequenced 300 million bases of DNA, about one tenth the size of the human genome. We are analyzing this ‘ocean genome’ to see if changes might affect the productivity of the sea.”

Worldwide, fish from the sea provide nearly a fifth of the animal protein eaten by man. If microscopic plants that fish eat are affected by carbon dioxide, this may deplete a major food source.

“Bacteria still control the world” said Dr Joint from Plymouth Marine Laboratory. “They ensure that the planet is fertile and that toxic materials do not accumulate.” The carbon dioxide produced by humans is turning the oceans into weak acids. This century, the seas will be more acidic than they have been for 20 million years.

“There are many millions of different bacteria in the ocean. They control the cycling of oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and sulphur; microbes in the sea generate half of the oxygen produced globally every year.” So the atmosphere could also be affected by ocean acidification. “Bacteria made the earth suitable for animals by producing oxygen nearly 2 billion years ago. We want to find out if human activities will have a major impact on microbial life in the seas and if this is likely to be a problem for mankind in the future”

Source: Society for General Microbiology

Explore further: Researchers study vital 'on/off switches' that control when bacteria turn deadly

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Meteorite that doomed dinosaurs remade forests

19 hours ago

The meteorite impact that spelled doom for the dinosaurs 66 million years ago decimated the evergreens among the flowering plants to a much greater extent than their deciduous peers, according to a study ...

Asian monsoon much older than previously thought

Sep 14, 2014

The Asian monsoon already existed 40 million years ago during a period of high atmospheric carbon dioxide and warmer temperatures, reports an international research team led by a University of Arizona geoscientist.

Cutting the cloud computing carbon cost

Sep 12, 2014

Cloud computing involves displacing data storage and processing from the user's computer on to remote servers. It can provide users with more storage space and computing power that they can then access from anywhere in the ...

How salt causes buildings to crumble

Sep 11, 2014

Salt crystals are often responsible when buildings start to show signs of aging. Researchers from the Institute for Building Materials have studied salt damage in greater depth and can now predict weathering ...

Researchers discover new producer of crucial vitamin

Sep 11, 2014

(Phys.org) —New research has determined that a single group of micro-organisms may be responsible for much of the world's vitamin B12 production in the oceans, with implications for the global carbon cycle and climate change.

Recommended for you

A new quality control pathway in the cell

10 hours ago

Proteins are important building blocks in our cells and each cell contains millions of different protein molecules. They are involved in everything from structural to regulatory aspects in the cell. Proteins are constructed ...

Stem cells use 'first aid kits' to repair damage

13 hours ago

Stem cells hold great promise as a means of repairing cells in conditions such as multiple sclerosis, stroke or injuries of the spinal cord because they have the ability to develop into almost any cell type. ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mysticfree
not rated yet Dec 10, 2007
"...may affect..." "...could have..." "...from one experiment..." "...are analyzing..." Is it too much to ask for stories with definite conclusions and analysis? Anyone can write doom-and-gloom with "maybe's", "what-ifs", and "possibly". I 'may' win the lottery, which 'could have' a bad effect on my life. I'm analyzing the results from one ticket now.