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Bacteria: A day in the life

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MIT study finds ocean bacteria follow predictable patterns of daily activity.

We are all creatures of habit, and a new MIT study finds ocean bacteria are no exception.

In a paper published this week in Science, researchers from MIT and elsewhere report that microbes in the open ocean follow predictable patterns of biological activity, such as eating, breathing, and growing. Certain species are early risers, exhibiting genetic signs of respiration, metabolism, and protein synthesis in the morning hours, while others rouse to action later in the day.

Edward DeLong, the Morton (1924) and Claire Goulder and Family Professor in Environmental Systems in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, says this daily progression of bacterial activity is surprisingly dependable and orderly.

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