Extracellular DNA Plays a Key Role in Deep-Sea Ecosystem Functioning

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Science  30 Sep 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5744, pp. 2179
DOI: 10.1126/science.1117475

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The ecological role and biogeochemical relevance of extracellular DNA in the oceanic sediments are unknown. Our global estimates indicate that up to 0.45 gigatons of extracellular DNA are present in the top 10 centimeters of deep-sea sediments, representing the largest reservoir of DNA in the world oceans. We demonstrate that extracellular DNA accounts for about one fifth of the total organic phosphorus regeneration and provides almost half of the prokaryotic demand for organic phosphorus. It therefore plays a key role in deep-sea ecosystem functioning on a global scale.

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