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Bacterial 'Conversations' Have Impact on Climate

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It’s wondrous how the vast and the infinitesimal combine to make our planet work. Scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have found that bacteria in the ocean, gathering in sort of “microbial block parties,” communicate and cooperate with each other to have a significant impact on how carbon dioxide is transferred from the atmosphere to the deep sea.

In this newly discovered mechanism, bacteria coalesce on tiny particles of carbon-rich detritus sinking in the ocean. They send out chemical signals to discern if other bacteria are in the neighborhood. If enough of their compadres are nearby, the bacteria en masse commence sending out enzymes that break up the particles into more digestible bits
 
 

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