The Importance of Bacteria in Long-Term Storage of Ocean-Bred Carbon

The ocean is a huge tank of dissolved organic matter; many of them are sure against microbial utilization for many years. They contain a comparable amount of carbon as likened to carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air and where these persistent molecules came from is still a mystery.

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Dissolved organic matter (DOM) in the ocean is a highly compound combination of diverse materials-based matters which are waste products from organisms. An amount of the DOM can be munched by bacteria which can turn to carbon dioxide. Nevertheless, the majority of the DOM found in the oceans (more than 90 percent) is resistant to bacterial utilization and can be about 4,000 to 6,000 years old.
Both the algae and bacteria in the ocean have a great influence on the balance between the drawdown and discharge of carbon dioxide from the air and therefore on the global weather. Studies proved that bacteria are laboratory experiments produce DOM that is stable for over a year.


For their work, the researchers positioned bacteria from the sea to fake sea water, to make sure that the water was DOM-free at the beginning of the experiment. The bacteria were served with carbon sources.

Four weeks later, the DOM made by bacteria was examined using high-resolution chemical methods and was competing with the DOM found naturally in sea water.
As a result, the researchers found an answer to their query as to the root of persistent DOM: “It appears really clear that bacteria are a major driver in keeping a fraction of the atmospheric carbon dioxide in the sea for long periods of time,” said Dr. Norbert Hertkorn of the Helmholtz Centre Munich. “Although the percentage of persistent substances in our experiment was obviously very low, their stability suggests that they may roll up in the ocean. This is how bacteria efficiently contribute to carbon storage in the ocean and play an important and so far underestimated role in our climate.”

Lechtenfeld wants to do additional investigations to expose which chemical structures and mechanisms are accountable for stopping bacteria to divide persistent substances. In doing so he will increase his focus to include the soil ecosystem: “Even less is known about which processes in the soil are responsible for capturing carbon in the form of persistent organic molecules. That is, nevertheless, an important facet of agriculture and for the treatment of drinking water. As for some years, there have been increased DOM concentrations measured in catchment areas of water dams,” said Lechtenfeld.





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