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Molecular Approaches for In Situ Studies of Nitrate Utilization by Marine Bacteria


PIs: Marc Frischer, Peter Verity (Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, Savannah, GA), Debbie Bronk (Virginia Institute of Marine Science), and Matt Gilligan (Savannah State Univ., Savannah, GA, USA)

Support: U.S. Department of Energy

Timeframe: 12/01/2000 - 11/30/2003

Project Overview:
The purpose of the study is to investigate the role of bacteria in the utilization of nitrate in coastal marine environments.

A study such as this is significant because much of the atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by human activity eventually dissolves in the oceans. Microscopic plants found in the ocean are important in removing this dissolved carbon dioxide, but to do so, they need nitrate and other minerals in relatively constant proportions. If marine bacteria prove to be strong competitors for the vital nitrate, the ability of the microscopic plants to remove carbon dioxide from the ocean will be diminished. Projections by oceanographers suggest that the effect of marine bacteria on the cycling of carbon dioxide through the atmosphere and oceans will be increasingly important in the next 20 to 50 years.


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This page was updated October 13, 2006