Discovery of bacteria explains the reason for fewer algae

Scientists have long been perplexed about why large amounts of nutrition disappear in some parts of the oceans. But now an international team of researchers with participation of the Nordic Center for Earth Evolution (NordCEE) at the University of Southern Denmark has found an explanation.

One of the world’s largest bacteria, Thioploca feeds on nitrate, which it absorbs from the water at the bottom of the sea. The new research shows that this process is being enhanced by so-called anammox-bacteria, which steal nitrate from Thioploca.

The newly discovered symbiotic relationship increases nitrogen metabolism in the sea. This leads to fewer algae in the water and thus less food for marine organisms. The consequence is that there is less food for the fish.

The research team studied the seabed off Mexico. Should the bacteria spread closer to the coasts, it could have implications for fisheries in the area. The results are published in Nature.

Read more on the University of Southern Denmark’s website