Contribution of Aerobic Photoheterotrophic Bacteria to the Carbon Cycle in the Ocean

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Science  29 Jun 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5526, pp. 2492-2495
DOI: 10.1126/science.1059707

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The vertical distribution of bacteriochlorophylla, the numbers of infrared fluorescent cells, and the variable fluorescence signal at 880 nanometers wavelength, all indicate that photosynthetically competent anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria are abundant in the upper open ocean and comprise at least 11% of the total microbial community. These organisms are facultative photoheterotrophs, metabolizing organic carbon when available, but are capable of photosynthetic light utilization when organic carbon is scarce. They are globally distributed in the euphotic zone and represent a hitherto unrecognized component of the marine microbial community that appears to be critical to the cycling of both organic and inorganic carbon in the ocean.

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