Posts Tagged ‘Press Release’

Climate Change Will Irreversibly Force Key Ocean Bacteria into Overdrive

Thursday, September 17th, 2015
Trichodesmium, a key organism in the ocean’s food web

Abigail Heithoff, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

New research by scientists at WHOI and Univ. of California, demonstrates that Trichodesmium, a key organism in the ocean’s food web, will start reproducing at high speed as carbon dioxide levels rise, with no way to stop when nutrients become scarce.

Imagine being in a car with the gas pedal stuck to the floor, heading toward a cliff’s edge. Metaphorically speaking, that’s what climate change will do to the key group of ocean bacteria known as Trichodesmium, scientists have discovered.

Trichodesmium (called “Tricho” for short by researchers) is one of the few organisms in the ocean that can “fix” atmospheric nitrogen gas, making it available to other organisms. It is crucial because all life – from algae to whales – needs nitrogen to grow.

A new study from University of Southern California and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) shows that changing conditions due to climate change could send Tricho into overdrive with no way to stop – reproducing faster and generating lots more nitrogen. Without the ability to slow down, however, Tricho has the potential to gobble up all its available resources, which could trigger die-offs of the microorganism and the higher organisms that depend on it.

By breeding hundreds of generations of the bacteria over the course of nearly five years in high carbon dioxide ocean conditions predicted for the year 2100, researchers found that increased ocean acidification evolved Tricho to work harder, producing 50 percent more nitrogen, and grow faster.

The problem is that these amped-up bacteria can’t turn it off even when they are placed in conditions with less carbon dioxide. Further, the adaptation can’t be reversed over time – something not seen before by evolutionary biologists, and worrisome to marine biologists, says David Hutchins, lead author of the study.

“Losing the ability to regulate your growth rate is not a healthy thing,” said Hutchins, professor at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “The last thing you want is to be stuck with these high growth rates when there aren’t enough nutrients to go around. It’s a losing strategy in the struggle to survive.”

Tricho needs phosphorous and iron, which also exist in the ocean in limited supply. With no way to regulate its growth, the turbo-boosted Tricho could burn through all of its available nutrients too quickly and abruptly die off, which would be catastrophic for all other life forms in the ocean that need the nitrogen it would have produced to survive.

Some models predict that increasing ocean acidification will exacerbate the problem of nutrient scarcity by increasing stratification of the ocean – locking key nutrients away from the organisms that need them to survive.

Hutchins is collaborating with Eric Webb of USC Dornsife and Mak Saito of WHOI to gain a better understanding of what the future ocean will look like, as it continues to be shaped by climate change. They were shocked by the discovery of an evolutionary change that appears to be permanent – something Hutchins described as “unprecedented.”

“Tricho has been studied for ages. Nobody expected that it could do something so bizarre,” he said. “The evolutionary biologists are interested in it just to study this as a basic evolutionary principle.”

The team is now studying the DNA of Tricho to try to find out how and why the irreversible evolution occurs. Earlier this year, research led by Webb found that Tricho’s DNA inexplicably contains elements that are usually only seen in higher life forms.

“Our results in this and the aforementioned study are truly surprising. Furthermore, they are giving us an improved, view of how global climate change will impact Trichodesmium and the vital supplies of new nitrogen it provides to the rest of the marine food web in the future,” Webb said.

“There’s a lot of interest in understanding how organisms will respond to increasing CO2,” said Mak Saito, a co-author on the study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “These findings are quite surprising in determining that the important marine microbe Trichodesmium adapts to high CO2, but can’t revert back once CO2 is reduced again. This has implications not only for our understanding of the evolution and biochemical processes that underlie this irreversible change, but also for policy makers emphasizing the urgency of acting to reduce fossil fuel emissions sooner rather than later.”

The research was published in Nature Communications on Sept. 1, 2015.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. For more information, please visit www.whoi.edu.

Hutchins, Webb and Saito collaborated with Nathan Walworth, Jasmine Gale and Fei-Xue Fu of USC; and Dawn Moran and Matthew McIlvin of Woods Hole. Their work was funded by the National Science Foundation, grants OCE 1260490, OCE 1143760, OCE 1260233 and OCE OA 1220484; and the G.B. Moore Foundation, grants 3782 and 3934.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 1, 2015

Media Relations Office
media@whoi.edu
(508) 289-3340

Climate Change Will Irreversibly Force Key Ocean Bacteria into Overdrive

Thursday, September 17th, 2015
Trichodesmium, a key organism in the ocean’s food web

Abigail Heithoff, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

New research by scientists at WHOI and Univ. of California, demonstrates that Trichodesmium, a key organism in the ocean’s food web, will start reproducing at high speed as carbon dioxide levels rise, with no way to stop when nutrients become scarce.

Imagine being in a car with the gas pedal stuck to the floor, heading toward a cliff’s edge. Metaphorically speaking, that’s what climate change will do to the key group of ocean bacteria known as Trichodesmium, scientists have discovered.

Trichodesmium (called “Tricho” for short by researchers) is one of the few organisms in the ocean that can “fix” atmospheric nitrogen gas, making it available to other organisms. It is crucial because all life – from algae to whales – needs nitrogen to grow.

A new study from University of Southern California and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) shows that changing conditions due to climate change could send Tricho into overdrive with no way to stop – reproducing faster and generating lots more nitrogen. Without the ability to slow down, however, Tricho has the potential to gobble up all its available resources, which could trigger die-offs of the microorganism and the higher organisms that depend on it.

By breeding hundreds of generations of the bacteria over the course of nearly five years in high carbon dioxide ocean conditions predicted for the year 2100, researchers found that increased ocean acidification evolved Tricho to work harder, producing 50 percent more nitrogen, and grow faster.

The problem is that these amped-up bacteria can’t turn it off even when they are placed in conditions with less carbon dioxide. Further, the adaptation can’t be reversed over time – something not seen before by evolutionary biologists, and worrisome to marine biologists, says David Hutchins, lead author of the study.

“Losing the ability to regulate your growth rate is not a healthy thing,” said Hutchins, professor at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “The last thing you want is to be stuck with these high growth rates when there aren’t enough nutrients to go around. It’s a losing strategy in the struggle to survive.”

Tricho needs phosphorous and iron, which also exist in the ocean in limited supply. With no way to regulate its growth, the turbo-boosted Tricho could burn through all of its available nutrients too quickly and abruptly die off, which would be catastrophic for all other life forms in the ocean that need the nitrogen it would have produced to survive.

Some models predict that increasing ocean acidification will exacerbate the problem of nutrient scarcity by increasing stratification of the ocean – locking key nutrients away from the organisms that need them to survive.

Hutchins is collaborating with Eric Webb of USC Dornsife and Mak Saito of WHOI to gain a better understanding of what the future ocean will look like, as it continues to be shaped by climate change. They were shocked by the discovery of an evolutionary change that appears to be permanent – something Hutchins described as “unprecedented.”

“Tricho has been studied for ages. Nobody expected that it could do something so bizarre,” he said. “The evolutionary biologists are interested in it just to study this as a basic evolutionary principle.”

The team is now studying the DNA of Tricho to try to find out how and why the irreversible evolution occurs. Earlier this year, research led by Webb found that Tricho’s DNA inexplicably contains elements that are usually only seen in higher life forms.

“Our results in this and the aforementioned study are truly surprising. Furthermore, they are giving us an improved, view of how global climate change will impact Trichodesmium and the vital supplies of new nitrogen it provides to the rest of the marine food web in the future,” Webb said.

“There’s a lot of interest in understanding how organisms will respond to increasing CO2,” said Mak Saito, a co-author on the study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “These findings are quite surprising in determining that the important marine microbe Trichodesmium adapts to high CO2, but can’t revert back once CO2 is reduced again. This has implications not only for our understanding of the evolution and biochemical processes that underlie this irreversible change, but also for policy makers emphasizing the urgency of acting to reduce fossil fuel emissions sooner rather than later.”

The research was published in Nature Communications on Sept. 1, 2015.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. For more information, please visit www.whoi.edu.

Hutchins, Webb and Saito collaborated with Nathan Walworth, Jasmine Gale and Fei-Xue Fu of USC; and Dawn Moran and Matthew McIlvin of Woods Hole. Their work was funded by the National Science Foundation, grants OCE 1260490, OCE 1143760, OCE 1260233 and OCE OA 1220484; and the G.B. Moore Foundation, grants 3782 and 3934.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 1, 2015

Media Relations Office
media@whoi.edu
(508) 289-3340

Reef Divers Dives into Grand Cayman’s Cobalt Coast Resort and Suites

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Cobalt Coast Dive Resort

Reef Divers to become on-site diver operator for Grand Cayman’s all-inclusive resort diving oasis.

Reef Divers is proud to become the official on-site dive operator, starting December 1, 2015, for Grand Cayman’s premier all-inclusive diving resort, Cobalt Coast Resort and Suites. This boutique diving resort was the first to introduce the true “suite” experience on Grand Cayman. Reef Divers is famed for its one-of-a-kind “valet diving” service. Together, guests will experience the very best of Grand Cayman for an unforgettable dive vacation.

Reef Divers is a team of PADI and SSI certified professionals dedicated to ensuring the safety of divers and protecting the environment, while providing unrivaled diving adventures and exclusive concierge service for more than 25 years. They offer guided- diving boat trips, snorkeling excursions, complete PADI and SSI instructional programs, Nitrox-enriched air, and dive equipment to all levels of divers throughout the Cayman Islands: Cayman Brac, Little Cayman, and now Grand Cayman.

Reef Divers is acclaimed for its one-of-kind valet diving service where divers can relax and let the dive team do all the work, providing a carefree, concierge experience. Reef Divers ensures that all guests travel comfortably on their fleet of spacious 42’ and 46’ custom Newton boats. Before each excursion, the experienced Reef Divers team carefully carries the divers’ gear onto the boats and prepares it for the dive. Once on board, the dive staff provides additional convenience by changing the divers’ tanks after every single dive. At Cobalt Coast Resort and Suites, divers can also experience unlimited world-class shore diving mere steps from the front door. All combined, guests will enjoy some of the best diving in the world.

Quietly secluded on Grand Cayman’s northwest shore, yet a short drive from popular Seven Mile Beach, Cobalt Coast Resort and Suites offers luxurious accommodations and outstanding amenities on land to complement the beauty beneath the sea. Guests are graced with spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea, a relaxed oceanfront ambiance, easy access to a variety of diving, and a world of island adventure. The warm and friendly staff provides truly personal service for the most comfortable and memorable experience.

Cobalt Coast Resort and Suites now joins the sister islands resorts, Little Cayman Beach Resort and Cayman Brac Beach Resort, as Reef Divers brings its exceptional valet diving service and reputation to Grand Cayman. With this alliance between Reef Divers and Cobalt Coast Resort and Suites, diving enthusiasts and tropical travelers visiting Grand Cayman can experience everything they want, and more, in a single dive- vacation destination.

About Reef Divers:
Reef Divers provides guided scuba diving boat trips and snorkeling excursions with concierge “valet diving” service, along with complete PADI and SSI instructional programs, and dive equipment to divers and resorts throughout the Cayman Islands. The team of professional instructors and boat captains pride themselves on ensuring the safety of both divers and the environment, while offering the most memorable diving experience. Reef Divers is affiliated with PADI, SSI, and the Universal Referral Program. For more information on Reef Divers, visit reefdiverscaymanbrac.com.

  
About Cobalt Coast Resort and Suites:
Secluded on Grand Cayman’s northwest shore overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, Cobalt Coast Resort and Suites offers the ultimate diving vacation in a luxurious tropical haven. The resort was the first on the island to provide a true  “suite”  experience, which is complemented by ocean-side dining, an open-air bar, a freshwater swimming pool, and the warmth and personal service of the dedicated staff. Located on Grand Cayman’s famed North Wall, Cobalt Coast Resort and Suites provides unrivaled access to some of the island’s best diving. Whether boarding a dive boat from their private dock or diving from shore, this resort grants guests a rare opportunity to explore both iconic dive sites and hidden underwater treasures.   For more information on Cobalt Coast Resort and Suites, visit  CobaltCoast.com.

Join Saba’s Sea & Learn Environmental Awareness Program, October 2015

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Sea & Learn invites you to Saba for another exciting event this October! Enhance your environmental awareness as you join our 2015 experts for firsthand encounters with nature.

Every year during the month of October, Sea & Learn hosts more than a dozen world-renowned scientific experts for a month-long environmental awareness event. There are 14 experts on Saba during the month; each week has different topics with different scientists and different activities. Every other night there’s a presentation held at a bar or restaurant. Sign up for a dive, join a hike or just sit with a cold drink and enjoy the night time presentation–there are numerous ways to enhance your own environmental awareness.

This year marks the 13th annual event; all activities are free and open to the public. Sea & Learn is unique to the rain forest island paradise of Saba in the Dutch Caribbean. Saba is called the Unspoiled Queen for its pristine nature and vibrant biodiversity from mountainous cloud forest to its deep water pinnacles.

Visit the new Sea & Learn website to learn more: http://www.seaandlearn.com/ and find Sea & Learn on facebook for all the latest updates. For specific questions or to be added to the mailing list, email seaandlearnsaba@gmail.com.