Scientists find common ocean algae to help cool Earth’s climate

New Delhi, June 11 An international team of researchers has found a common type of ocean algae that plays a significant role in producing a massively abundant compound to help cool the Earth’s climate.

The team from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Ocean University of China (OUC) identified the bloom-forming Pelagophyceae algae as potentially abundant and important producers of a compound called dimethylsulfoniopropionate, or DMSP.

While “the Pelagophyceae are amongst the most abundant algae on Earth, they were not previously known as important producers of DMSP,” said Professor Jonathan Todd, from UEA’s School of Biological Sciences.

Calling the “discovery is exciting”, the Professor explained that “DMSP is an abundant antistress compound, food source for other microorganisms and a major source of climate-cooling gases”.

The team said that DMSP is the main source of a climate active gas called dimethylsulfide (DMS) -- known as the smell of the seaside.

The study, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, suggests that DMSP production, and consequently DMS release, is likely higher than previously predicted and emphasises the key role of microbes in regulating global climate.

DMS also acts as a signalling molecule, guiding marine organisms to their food and deterring predators.

When DMS is released into the atmosphere, DMS oxidation products help form clouds which reflect sunlight away from the Earth, effectively cooling the planet.

This natural process is essential for regulating the Earth’s climate and is also hugely important for the global sulphur cycle, representing the main route by which sulphur from the oceans is returned to land, the team said.

--IANS

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Source: IANS
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