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Globally Distributed Uncultivated Oceanic N2-Fixing Cyanobacteria Lack Oxygenic Photosystem II

Science  14 Nov 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5904, pp. 1110-1112
DOI: 10.1126/science.1165340

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Abstract

Biological nitrogen (N2) fixation is important in controlling biological productivity and carbon flux in the oceans. Unicellular N2-fixing cyanobacteria have only recently been discovered and are widely distributed in tropical and subtropical seas. Metagenomic analysis of flow cytometry–sorted cells shows that unicellular N2-fixing cyanobacteria in “group A” (UCYN-A) lack genes for the oxygen-evolving photosystem II and for carbon fixation, which has implications for oceanic carbon and nitrogen cycling and raises questions regarding the evolution of photosynthesis and N2 fixation on Earth.

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