Understanding the ocean’s metabolic balance
Approximately 98 % of the ocean’s biomass consists of microorganisms such as the minuscule algae phytoplankton. Phytoplankton’s role in Earth’s photosynthesis is essential because it captures carbon dioxide (CO2), allowing the ocean to release major living resources and dioxygen (O2). In addition, it triggers microbial respiration that is a fundamental metabolic process for counterbalancing photosynthesis and returning organic carbon as CO2. However, knowledge about microbial respiration remains limited. The EU-funded BULLE project will assess the ocean’s metabolic balance between photosynthesis and respiration by studying the evolution from CO2 production to 02, which is termed ‘respiratory quotient’ (RQ). The project will apply innovative technologies and methods to investigate how the chemical features of nutrients regulate the RQ in bacterial cells and study the interconnections between the RQ, net primary production and bacterial activities.
Fields of science
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