The ocean sequesters massive amounts of carbon in the form of “dissolved organic matter,” and new research explains how an ancient group of cells in the dark ocean wrings the last bit of energy from carbon molecules resistant to breakdown.
A look at genomes from SAR202 bacterioplankton found oxidative enzymes and other important families of enzymes that indicate SAR202 may facilitate the last stages of breakdown before the dissolved oxygen matter, or DOM, reaches a “refractory” state that fends off further decomposition.
Zach Landry, an OSU graduate student and first author of the study, named SAR202 “Monstromaria” from the Latin term for “sea monster.”
Study illuminates fate of marine carbon in last steps toward sequestration| Oregon State University
For the first time, researchers have shown that cultured picocyanobacteria, Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus, found in the open ocean release fluorescent components that closely match these typical fluorescent signals found in oceanic environments.
“Two genus of picocyanobacteria – Synechococus and Prochlorocccos – are the most abundant carbon fixers in the ocean.” said Chen. His lab maintains a collection of marine cyanobacteria and cyanoviruses. Some of these isolates were used in this study.
“When you sail on the blue ocean, a lot of picocyanbacteria are working there,” said Gonsior.” They turn carbon dioxide into organic carbon and are likely responsible for some of the deep ocean color coming from organic matter.”