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Sugar’s Role in Climate Change

Phytoplankton

Phytoplankton living in the surface waters of the oceans are responsible for absorbing up to 40% of all of the carbon that becomes incorporated into living things.

By Christel Hassler

Marine plankton account for up to 40% of carbon absorbed by all living things, but their growth is limited in half of the world’s oceans by iron bioavailability. New research has found that marine plankton can produce sugars that improve iron bioavailability – and hence plankton growth.

Christel Hassler is Chancellor's Post Doctoral Research Fellow with the University of Technology Sydney’s Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster. The research described here was a collaboration with the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, CSIRO, the Center for Australian Weather and Climate Research and New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, and was published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science. Co-authors are V. Schoemann, E.C.V. Butler, C.A. Mancuso Nichols, M. Doblin, P.J. Ralph and P.W. Boyd.

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