Die Archaea-Art Nitrosopumilus maritimus It spreads in the oceans, where it meets its vital needs by oxidizing ammonia to nitrogen. That is why it is found mainly in areas of the oceans rich in oxygen. However, it also lives in the dark regions of the deep sea – which is surprisingly good, which science has not yet been able to explain. But a working group led by Don Canfield of the University of Southern Denmark managed to solve the mystery, As I wrote in “Science”: The microbe actually produces the oxygen itself without photosynthesis.
The team actually wanted to know the minimum oxygen content at which the microbes could still survive. So they put them in airtight containers so that no light could penetrate, and then artificially reduced the oxygen content of the water. Canfield and Company wanted to simulate part of the living conditions in the deep sea. The archaea then used up all the remaining oxygen to maintain their metabolism. But then its concentration in the tank began to increase again: the microbes produced the gas themselves.
How they succeeded is still not clear. However, the working group is certain that it must be the course of a completely new generation. So far, we know three possible processes by which oxygen can be formed in the dark without photosynthesis. But none of them look like Nitrosopumilus maritimus Scientists are convinced. This is because microbes produce both oxygen and nitrogen oxides, which has not yet been observed in this mixture.
Researchers suspect that while ammonia oxidation is more common among archaea, this type of metabolism with simultaneous production of oxygen can also occur more frequently. However, it is not fully known whether it plays or played a major role in the enrichment of gas in the environment.
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