Bacterial ‘Conversations’ Have Impact on Climate

Hey, let’s connect cell-cell communication with terraforming:

In this newly discovered mechanism, bacteria coalesce on tiny particles of carbon-rich detritus sinking in the ocean. They send out chemical signals to discern if other bacteria are in the neighborhood. If enough of their compadres are nearby, the bacteria en masse commence sending out enzymes that break up the particles into more digestible bits (see interactive below).

As a result, a substantial amount of carbon does not sink to the depths, which affects both the marine food web and the planet’s climate. The re-released carbon can be reused by marine plants, and less carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas, is drawn out of the air into the ocean. In addition, less carbon is effectively transferred to the bottom of the ocean, from where it cannot easily return to the atmosphere.

The finding represents the first evidence that bacterial communication plays a crucial role in Earth’s carbon cycle.

2 responses to “Bacterial ‘Conversations’ Have Impact on Climate

  1. So much for unintelligent bacteria.

  2. So if dump enough chlorine into the ocean…

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