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UBC researchers find key microbial indicator of ocean health

A team of researchers at the University of British Columbia, along with colleagues at the US Dept. of Energy Joint Genome Institute, has mapped the genome of a microbe that is silently helping to shape the ecology of oxygen-minimum areas in the ocean known as dead zones.

"Microbes specialize in metabolic innovation and many can use alternatives to oxygen, including nitrates, sulfates and metals, breathing these compounds instead of oxygen. These adaptations likely enable them to thrive in dead zones where their combined metabolic activity influences nutrient and greenhouse gas cycling on a global scale," says Steve Hallam, an assistant professor of Microbiology and Immunology.

The study, published Oct. 23 in Science, offers new insight into metabolic capabilities of an abundant dead zone microbe known as SUPO5.

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