Bacteria may contribute more to climate change as planet heats up

Bacteria may contribute more to climate change as planet heats up

SOURCE: Imperial College London DATE: November 12, 2019 SNIP: As bacteria adapt to hotter temperatures, they speed up their respiration rate and release more carbon, potentially accelerating climate change. By releasing more carbon as global temperatures rise, bacteria and related organisms called archaea could increase climate warming at a faster rate than current models suggest. The new research, published today in Nature Communications by scientists from Imperial College London, could help inform more accurate models of future climate warming. Bacteria and archaea, collectively known as prokaryotes, are present on every continent and make up around half of global biomass – the total weight of all organisms on Earth. Most prokaryotes perform respiration that uses energy and releases carbon dioxide – just like we do when we breathe out. The amount of carbon dioxide released during a given time period depends on the prokaryote’s respiration rate, which can change in response to temperature. However, the exact relationship between temperature, respiration rate and carbon output has been uncertain. Now, by bringing together a database of respiration rate changes according to temperature from 482 prokaryotes, researchers have found the majority will increase their carbon output in response to higher temperatures to a greater degree than previously thought. Lead researcher Dr Samraat Pawar, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial, said: “Rising temperatures therefore cause a ‘double whammy’ effect on many prokaryote communities, allowing them to function more efficiently in both the short and long term, and creating an even larger contribution to global carbon and resulting temperatures.” Lead author of the new research, PhD student Thomas Smith from the Department of...
Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Are Turning Up in Puget Sound Marine Life

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Are Turning Up in Puget Sound Marine Life

SOURCE: Hakai Magazine DATE: March 4, 2019 SNIP: In Washington State’s Puget Sound, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are infecting the area’s harbor seals and harbor porpoises. A recent preliminary survey of 11 animals has produced worrying results: 80 percent of animals sampled carried bacteria that were resistant to an antibiotic, and more than 50 percent carried bacteria that were resistant to multiple antibiotics. “These animals are sentinels,” says Stephanie Norman, a veterinary epidemiologist with Marine-Med who is working to understand the causes and the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the region’s marine mammals—a project supported by a wide range of local and state organizations. Wild animals aren’t routinely taking antibiotics to treat infections, but widespread antibiotic resistance in ocean creatures could still have a major impact on the conservation of endangered species. That’s because, as in the case of an ailing young southern resident killer whale that was administered antibiotics in 2018, veterinarians and others trying to rescue sick animals sometimes use these medications. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria in marine environments could be dangerous to humans, too. Marine bacteria can cause skin infections in people with even small scrapes or insect bites, or food poisoning in people who eat contaminated seafood, especially for seafood eaten raw, such as oysters. Norman says that while most marine antibiotic resistance probably comes from land sources (like humans and livestock), the use of antibiotics in marine fish farms may also be cause for concern. (Although salmon farming is being phased out in Washington State, it is still allowed in neighboring British...
Cases of deadly dirt disease melioidosis will increase as climate changes, expert warns

Cases of deadly dirt disease melioidosis will increase as climate changes, expert warns

SOURCE: ABC News DATE: February 12, 2019 SNIP: A senior tropical disease researcher is warning that cases of the potentially lethal soil-borne infectious disease melioidosis will increase due to climate change. Melioidosis is caused by a soil-dwelling bacterium and can lead to pneumonia, blood poisoning and death. Authorities in Townsville yesterday confirmed a person had died from the disease and several others were in intensive care following widespread flooding in the region. Professor Bart Currie from the Menzies School of Health in Darwin said he expected the bacteria would increase in tropical regions due to the effects of climate change. Melioidosis lives beneath the soil’s surface year-round in the tropics but comes to the surface — and poses a greater risk to humans — following heavy rain. Dr Currie said predictions showed increased temperatures and a greater number of severe weather events in the future would provide conditions for the bacteria to...

Alive and Well: Microbes Add to Melting of Greenland Ice Sheet

SOURCE: Yale Climate Connections DATE: March 22, 2017 SNIP: Scientists are investigating a new “positive feedback” in Greenland’s melting ice sheet—as climate warms, more microbial growth on the ice sheet is darkening ice, and hastening ice melt and sea level...