Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Seawater


The response of microbial communities to long-term environmental change is poorly understood. Here, we study bacterioplankton communities in a unique system of coastal Antarctic lakes that were exposed to progressive long-term environmental change, using 454 pyrosequencing of the 16S rDNA gene (V3-V4 regions). At the time of formation, most of the studied lakes harbored marine-coastal microbial communities, as they were connected to the sea. During the past 20 000 years, most lakes isolated from the sea, and subsequently they experienced a gradual, but strong, salinity change that eventually developed into a gradient ranging from freshwater (salinity 0) to hypersaline (salinity 100). Our results indicated that present bacterioplankton community composition was strongly correlated with salinity and weakly correlated with geographical distance between lakes. A few abundant taxa were shared between some lakes and coastal marine communities. Nevertheless, lakes contained a large number of taxa that were not detected in the adjacent sea. Abundant and rare taxa within saline communities presented similar biogeography, suggesting that these groups have comparable environmental sensitivity. Habitat specialists and generalists were detected among abundant and rare taxa, with specialists being relatively more abundant at the extremes of the salinity gradient. Altogether, progressive long-term salinity change appears to have promoted the diversification of bacterioplankton communities by modifying the composition of ancestral communities and by allowing the establishment of new taxa.

Concepts: Time, Bacteria, Microbiology, 454 Life Sciences, 16S ribosomal RNA, Seawater, The Establishment, Saline water


Deep groundwater aquifers are poorly characterized but could yield important sources of water in California and elsewhere. Deep aquifers have been developed for oil and gas extraction, and this activity has created both valuable data and risks to groundwater quality. Assessing groundwater quantity and quality requires baseline data and a monitoring framework for evaluating impacts. We analyze 938 chemical, geological, and depth data points from 360 oil/gas fields across eight counties in California and depth data from 34,392 oil and gas wells. By expanding previous groundwater volume estimates from depths of 305 m to 3,000 m in California’s Central Valley, an important agricultural region with growing groundwater demands, fresh [<3,000 ppm total dissolved solids (TDS)] groundwater volume is almost tripled to 2,700 km(3), most of it found shallower than 1,000 m. The 3,000-m depth zone also provides 3,900 km(3) of fresh and saline water, not previously estimated, that can be categorized as underground sources of drinking water (USDWs; <10,000 ppm TDS). Up to 19% and 35% of oil/gas activities have occurred directly in freshwater zones and USDWs, respectively, in the eight counties. Deeper activities, such as wastewater injection, may also pose a potential threat to groundwater, especially USDWs. Our findings indicate that California's Central Valley alone has close to three times the volume of fresh groundwater and four times the volume of USDWs than previous estimates suggest. Therefore, efforts to monitor and protect deeper, saline groundwater resources are needed in California and beyond.

Concepts: Water, Aquifer, Groundwater, California, Seawater, Total dissolved solids, Fog, Central Valley Project


Advancements in the detection of environmental DNA (eDNA) for detecting species of interest will likely allow for expanded use of these techniques in the field. One obstacle that continues to hinder applications in the field is the requirement of a cold chain of storage for water samples containing eDNA. While eDNA has been successfully preserved using Longmire’s lysis buffer applied to filters, it has yet to be tried with freshwater samples collected for eDNA detection of an invasive species. We tested the utility of Longmire’s solution (100 mM Tris, 100 mM EDTA, 10 mM NaCl, 0.5 % SDS, 0.2 % sodium azide) as an additive to freshwater samples for preservation of eDNA.

Concepts: DNA, Water, Sodium, Seawater, Salt, Preservation, Field Island, Sodium compounds


The inability of membranes to handle a wide spectrum of pollutants is an important unsolved problem for water treatment. Here we demonstrate water desalination via a membrane distillation process using a graphene membrane where water permeation is enabled by nanochannels of multilayer, mismatched, partially overlapping graphene grains. Graphene films derived from renewable oil exhibit significantly superior retention of water vapour flux and salt rejection rates, and a superior antifouling capability under a mixture of saline water containing contaminants such as oils and surfactants, compared to commercial distillation membranes. Moreover, real-world applicability of our membrane is demonstrated by processing sea water from Sydney Harbour over 72 h with macroscale membrane size of 4 cm2, processing ~0.5 L per day. Numerical simulations show that the channels between the mismatched grains serve as an effective water permeation route. Our research will pave the way for large-scale graphene-based antifouling membranes for diverse water treatment applications.

Concepts: Oxygen, Water, Petroleum, Pollution, Seawater, Distillation, Evaporation, Drinking water


A fourth production region for the globally important Antarctic bottom water has been attributed to dense shelf water formation in the Cape Darnley Polynya, adjoining Prydz Bay in East Antarctica. Here we show new observations from CTD-instrumented elephant seals in 2011-2013 that provide the first complete assessment of dense shelf water formation in Prydz Bay. After a complex evolution involving opposing contributions from three polynyas (positive) and two ice shelves (negative), dense shelf water (salinity 34.65-34.7) is exported through Prydz Channel. This provides a distinct, relatively fresh contribution to Cape Darnley bottom water. Elsewhere, dense water formation is hindered by the freshwater input from the Amery and West Ice Shelves into the Prydz Bay Gyre. This study highlights the susceptibility of Antarctic bottom water to increased freshwater input from the enhanced melting of ice shelves, and ultimately the potential collapse of Antarctic bottom water formation in a warming climate.

Concepts: Density, Water, Glacier, Seawater, Antarctica, Ice shelf, Southern Ocean, Sea ice


Secondarily marine vertebrates are thought to live independently of fresh water. Here, we demonstrate a paradigm shift for the widely distributed pelagic sea snake, Hydrophis (Pelamis) platurus, which dehydrates at sea and spends a significant part of its life in a dehydrated state corresponding to seasonal drought. Snakes that are captured following prolonged periods without rainfall have lower body water content, lower body condition and increased tendencies to drink fresh water than do snakes that are captured following seasonal periods of high rainfall. These animals do not drink seawater and must rehydrate by drinking from a freshwater lens that forms on the ocean surface during heavy precipitation. The new data based on field studies indicate unequivocally that this marine vertebrate dehydrates at sea where individuals may live in a dehydrated state for possibly six to seven months at a time. This information provides new insights for understanding water requirements of sea snakes, reasons for recent declines and extinctions of sea snakes and more accurate prediction for how changing patterns of precipitation might affect these and other secondarily marine vertebrates living in tropical oceans.

Concepts: Water, Oceanography, Dehydration, Seawater, Ocean, Marine biology, Rain, Elapidae


In this study, the degradation of tetradecyltrimethylammonium bromide (TTAB) by freely suspended and alginate-entrapped cells from the bacteria Pseudomonas putida (P. putida) A ATCC 12633 was investigated in batch cultures. The optimal conditions to prepare beads for achieving a higher TTAB degradation rate were investigated by changing the concentration of sodium alginate, pH, temperature, agitation rate and initial concentration of TTAB. The results show that the optimal embedding conditions of calcium alginate beads are 4 % w/v of sodium alginate content and 2 × 10(8) cfu ml(-1) of P. putida A ATCC 12633 cells that had been previously grown in rich medium. The optimal degradation process was carried out in pH 7.4 buffered medium at 30 °C on a rotary shaker at 100 rpm. After 48 h of incubation, the free cells degraded 26 mg l(-1) of TTAB from an initial concentration of 50 mg l(-1) TTAB. When the initial TTAB concentration was increased to 100 mg l(-1), the free cells lost their degrading activity and were no longer viable. In contrast, when the cells were immobilized on alginate, they degraded 75 % of the TTAB after 24 h of incubation from an initial concentration of 330 mg l(-1) of TTAB. The immobilized cells can be stored at 4 °C for 25 days without loss of viability and can be reused without losing degrading capacity for three cycles.

Concepts: Cell wall, Pseudomonas, Surfactant, Seawater, Solution, Pseudomonadales, Pseudomonadaceae, Pseudomonas putida


This study was carried out to investigate possible seawater intrusion into groundwater along the coastal lines of the Bafra Plain and salinity-alkalinity problems over land areas irrigated with water exposed to seawater intrusion were evaluated. For this purpose, 32 groundwater wells were selected over the plain, water samples were taken from these wells between October 2007 and September 2008, and chemical analyses were performed over these samples. Soil samples were taken from the fields irrigated with this water at 32 different locations at the end of the irrigation season in September 2008 from 0-30, 30-60, 60-90, and 90-120 cm soil depths and textures. EC, pH, Na, Ca, Mg, and K analyses were performed over these samples. Excessive seawater intrusion was observed in some parts of the plain and impacts of seawater intrusion decreased with the distance from the coastal line. It was determined that groundwater quality was significantly affected from seawater intrusion. Salinity and especially alkalinity problems were observed in land areas irrigated with this water and alkalinity increased with the rate of intrusion.

Concepts: Water, Aquifer, Groundwater, Seawater, Irrigation, Water well, Soil salinity control, Soil salinity


We have studied the distribution of the archaeal communities in Rambla Salada (Murcia, Spain) over three different seasons and observed the influence upon them of the environmental variables, salinity, pH, oxygen and temperature. Samples were collected from three representative sites in order to gain an insight into the archaeal population of the rambla as a whole. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis patterns and diversity indexes indicate that the diversity of the archaeal community in Rambla Salada changed mainly according to the season. We found no significant differences between the types of sample studied: watery sediments and soils. The upwelling zone showed most diversity in its archaeal community. The overall archaeal community was composed mainly of Halobacteriales and Thermoplasmatales, accounting for 72.6 and 12.1 % of the total, respectively. Haloarcula was the most abundant genus, being present at all three sites during all three seasons. Some few Crenarchaeota were always found, mainly at low-salinity levels. Ordination canonical correspondence analysis demonstrated that salinity affected the structure of the community significantly, whilst pH, oxygen and temperature did so to a lesser extent. Most Halobacteriales correlated positively with salinity and pH, whilst Thermoplasmatales correlated negatively with both salinity and pH and positively with temperature and oxygen. The archaeal community with the highest diversity was sampled during June 2006, the season with the highest salt concentration. Catalyzed reporter deposition-fluorescence in situ hybridization showed that the percentage of archaea in Rambla Salada compared to the total number of microorganisms (as measured by DAPI) ranged from 11.1 to 16.7 %. Our research group had isolated the most abundant taxon, Haloarcula, previously in Rambla Salada using classical culture techniques, but on this occasion, using culture-independent methods, we were also able to identify some phylotypes, Halorubrum, Methanolobus, Natronomonas, Halomicrobium, Halobacterium, Halosimplex, uncultured Thermoplasmatales and uncultured Crenarchaeota, that had remained undetected during our earlier studies in this habitat.

Concepts: Archaea, Bacteria, Ecology, Soil, Seawater, Halobacteriaceae, Halobacteria, Archaea genera


The choice of the best species to cultivate in semi-arid and arid climates is of fundamental importance, and is determined by many factors, including temperature and rainfall, soil type, water availability for irrigation and crop purposes. Soil or water salinity represents one of the major causes of crop stress. Species of the genus Atriplex are characterized by high biomass productivity, high tolerance to drought and salinity, and high efficiency in use of solar radiation and water. Based on a search of the international literature, the authors outline an agro-climatic zoning model to determine potential production areas in Argentina for Atriplex halimus and Atriplex numularia. Using the agroclimatic limits presented in this work, this model may be applied to any part of the world. When superimposed on the saline areas map, the agroclimatic map shows the suitability of agro-ecological zoning for both species for energy purposes on land unsuitable for food production. This innovative study was based on the implementation of a geographic information system that can be updated by further incorporation of complementary information, with consequent improvement of the original database.

Concepts: Energy, Water, Precipitation, Geographic information system, Seawater, Saline water, Atriplex, Atriplex nummularia