2007 Annual Science Report

Marine Biological Laboratory Reporting  |  JUL 2006 – JUN 2007

Executive Summary

Most of life’s genetic and metabolic diversity is microbial, from the beginning of life and throughout its history to the present day. These organisms form microbial communities of astounding genetic complexity. Their aggregate metabolic activities shape planetary habitability by maintaining the carbon cycle through remineralization of carbon with and without oxygen, controlling the global utilization of nitrogen and mediating biogeochemical cycles for sulfur, iron and manganese. In marine settings, between 50 and 98 percent of the total biomass is microbial.

figure 1
Figure 1. Microbes rule the ocean. Cultivation-based enumeration of microbes in the oceans generally reported 100 organisms/ml of sea water. In contrast, when viewed through the microscope, the number of cells that can be stained with the DNA binding dye DAPI, ranges from 105 to 106 microorganisms/ml. The number of viruses is at least ten fold greater. The large objects in this micrograph ...

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