Mountains of sugar are hiding beneath seagrass meadows

Scientists have discovered a mindboggling deposit of sugar in an odd place: beneath seagrass meadows within the oceans of the world.

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According to researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, seagrass meadows conceal mountains of sugar. It’s like a Willy Wonka fantasy, with sufficient sugar to energy 32 billion cans of Coke, in line with Manuel Liebeke, a scientist on the institute. “To put this into perspective: we estimate that worldwide there are between 0.6 and 1.3 million tons of sugar, primarily within the kind of sucrose,” mentioned Liebeke in a press launch.

Related: World’s longest mountain vary is usually below water

What’s with all this underwater sugar? “Seagrasses professional­duce sugar dur­ing pho­to­syn­thesis,” mentioned Nicole Du­bilier, dir­ector on the Max Planck In­sti­tute. “Un­der av­er­age mild con­di­tions, these vegetation use most of the sug­ars they professional­duce for their very own meta­bol­ism and development. But un­der excessive mild con­di­tions, for ex­ample at mid­day or dur­ing the sum­mer, the vegetation professional­duce extra sugar than they’ll use or retailer. Then they re­lease the ex­cess sucrose into their rhizo­sphere. Think of it as an over­stream valve.”

Bacteria residing beneath the roots of seagrass devour sugar, which provides them with the vitality to supply nitrogen and different vitamins to fertilize seagrass meadows. However, the seagrass releases phenolic compounds which forestall the micro organism from digesting the sugar. And that’s fortunate for us, as a result of researchers decided that if the micro organism have been to eat all this saved sugar, we’d be dealing with a further 1.54 million tons of carbon dioxide launched into the ambiance. This is about the identical quantity that 330,000 gas-guzzling vehicles spew out in a 12 months.

So this implies we have to defend seagrass meadows, which are one of Earth’s most threatened habitat sorts. All of the world’s oceans are experiencing a speedy decline in seagrass, with annual losses as much as 7% in some locations. “We have no idea as a lot about seagrass as we do about land-based hab­it­ats,” mentioned Maggie So­gin, who led the Max Planck Institute’s re­search off the Italian is­land of Elba, the place a very excessive focus of sucrose was discovered. “Our examine con­trib­utes to our un­der­stand­ing of one of essentially the most crit­ical coastal hab­it­ats on our planet, and excessive­lights how im­port­ant it’s to pre­serve these blue automotive­bon eco­sys­tems.”

Via The Weather Network, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology

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