Ocean Carbon Flux Dissected With Genetics Techniques

Humans put about 7 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere each year. Of those 7 gigatons, the ocean takes up about 50 percent. But how the seas take up all this carbon, the ocean carbon flux, is not fully understood.

The role of phytoplankton, microscopic plants that drift in the ocean, is acknowledged to be significant in ocean carbon uptake but there are thousands of varieties of phytoplankton and all may not play the same role. In addition, bacteria and viruses have a role to play in ocean carbon fixation too, but sorting through the thousands, if not millions, of the ocean’s microbes and linking them to an ocean carbon sequestration function is daunting, to say the least.

Enter Matt Sullivan, assistant professor of microbiology and civil, environmental and geodetic engineering at Ohio State University. read more