Trees and grass are usually the only "heroes" that come to mind for consuming carbon dioxide and producing oxygen for planet Earth, but they have allies in the water: phytoplankton, or in another word, algae.
Phytoplankton are mostly single-celled photosynthetic organisms that feed fish and marine mammals. They are responsible for nearly 50 percent of the earths annual carbon-dioxide consumption and more than 45 percent of the oxygen production. Despite the important roles of modern phytoplankton, their evolutionary origins and rise to prominence in todays oceans was an unresolved question in marine science.
In the first study that looks at phytoplankton from combined perspectives of biology, chemistry and geology, researchers from three countries, including Texas A&M University at Galveston Assistant Professor Antonietta Quigg, who specializes in algae ecology and chemistry, examined modern phytoplankton development and reviewed their evolutionary history. Findings of the project appear in the July 16 issue of Science magazine.
Jing Zhang | EurekAlert!
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