PAOC Spotlights

Oxygen lost and found

Tue February 18th, 2020
Kyle R. Frischkorn | Nature Communications

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Oxygen production and consumption influences the chemistry of the planet, as well as its climate. One process is often overlooked when considering oxygen budgets, but appears to be "pervasive across marine microbial systems."

A new PNAS study led by MIT-WHOI Joint Program graduate student Kevin Sutherland and colleagues at WHOI finds that global oxygen loss by microbial production of superoxide, a reactive oxygen species that plays many diverse roles in metabolism, "equates to approxi­mately 36% of the total oxygen produced by marine photosynthesis," Kyle R. Frischkorn reports for Nature Communications. These are likely to be conservative numbers. "Such a substantial proportion indicates the so-called cryptic oxygen cycle is an overlooked but critical facet of marine redox dynamics."

Story Image: Credit: Frans Lanting Studio/Alamy Stock Photo