Credit: Dror Shitrit/Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology
Caption: Field samples were collected during a 2015 cruise in the North Pacific. Co-authors Bryndan Durham (center) and Laura Carlson (right) recover the sampling instrument. The gray bottles open and close at specific depths to collect seawater samples.
One of the planet's most active ecosystems is one most people rarely encounter and scientists are only starting to explore. The open ocean contains tiny organisms — phytoplankton — that perform half the photosynthesis on Earth, helping generate oxygen for animals on land.
A study by University of Washington oceanographers, published this summer in Nature Microbiology, looks at how photosynthetic microbes and ocean bacteria use sulfur, a plentiful marine nutrient.
Sulfur is the odor...