Coral microbiome is key to surviving climate change, new study finds | NSF – National Science Foundation

The microbiomes of corals — which comprise bacteria, fungi and viruses — play an important role in corals’ ability to tolerate rising ocean temperatures, according to research led by Penn State scientists.

The U.S. National Science Foundation-funded team also identified several genes in certain corals and the symbiotic photosynthetic algae that live inside their tissues that may play a role in their response to heat stress. “We know how complex coral communities are at the human visual level,” said Mike Sieracki, a program director in NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences. “Now we’re learning that their microbial partners, which we can’t see, help sustain coral health.”

The findings could inform current coral reef conservation efforts, for example, by highlighting the potential benefits of amending coral reefs with microbes found to bolster heat stress responses.
— Read on

Study examines role of deep-sea microbial predators at hydrothermal vents | NSF – National Science Foundation

Hydrothermal vent fluids from the Gorda Ridge spreading center in the Pacific Ocean create a biological hub of activity in the deep sea. There in the dark ocean, a unique food web thrives not on photosynthesis but on chemical energy from the venting fluids. Among the creatures having a field day is a diverse assortment of microbial eukaryotes, or protists, that graze on chemosynthetic bacteria and archaea.

This protistan grazing, a key mechanism for carbon transport and recycling in microbial food webs, exerts a higher predation pressure at hydrothermal vent sites than in the surrounding deep-sea environment, a U.S. National Science Foundation-funded paper reports.

“Our findings provide a first estimate of protistan grazing pressure in hydrothermal vent food webs, highlighting the important role diverse protistan communities play in deep-sea carbon cycling,” according to the paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

— Read on

Discovery of life in solid rock deep beneath sea may inspire new search for life on Mars: Bacteria live in tiny clay-filled cracks in solid rock millions of years old — ScienceDaily

Newly discovered single-celled creatures living deep beneath the seafloor have provided clues about how to find life on Mars. These bacteria were discovered living in tiny cracks inside volcanic rocks after researchers perfected a new method cutting rocks into ultrathin slices to study under a microscope. Researchers estimate that the rock cracks are home to a community of bacteria as dense as that of the human gut, about 10 billion bacterial cells per cubic centimeter.
— Read on