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HomeEcosystemsMajor role of nitrite-oxidizing bacteria in dark ocean carbon fixation

Major role of nitrite-oxidizing bacteria in dark ocean carbon fixation

Dissolved inorganic carbon fixers revealed

Most of the ocean is dark. Yet it is in this darkness, away from photosynthesizing sunlight, that most planetary carbon cycling occurs. Pachiadaki et al. show that nitrite-oxidizing bacteria in one phylum are the predominant fixers of dissolved inorganic carbon in the mesopelagic ocean. The authors sequenced thousands of single amplified genomes of marine prokaryotes. They identified more than 30 nitrite-oxidizing obligate chemoautotrophic bacteria that were unable to transport carbohydrate and that expressed nitrite oxidoreductase. This enzyme provides electrons to drive a reverse tricarboxylic acid cycle that fixes the carbon. Many of the genomes also suggest organisms that have the capacity to produce ammonium and other substrates, possibly to feed nitrite-producing metabolic partners.

Science  24 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6366, pp. 1046-1051

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