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Chatting bacteria hike atmospheric CO2

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Bacteria in the ocean are communicating and cooperating in a phenomenon which could be having a significant impact on the planet's climate.

In the water, bacteria coalesce on tiny particles of carbon-rich detritus as they sink down through the depths. And, now, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists have discovered that these bacteria send out chemical signals to see if other bacteria are in the neighborhood.

If enough others are nearby, the bacteria all commence secreting enzymes that break up the carbon-containing molecules within the particles into more digestible bits.

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