Editors' ChoiceMicrobiology

Carbon Budding in the Ocean

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Science Signaling  14 Jan 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 308, pp. ec13
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005063

Bacterial vesicles are gaining increasing attention for their roles in pathogenesis, but the abundance of these structures and their ecological roles in nonpathogenic contexts have received little notice. Biller et al. (see the Perspective by Scanlan) provide evidence that membrane vesicles ∼100 nm in diameter are released by marine cyanobacteria and are a major feature of marine ecosystems. Studies of cultures of Prochlorococcus—the most abundant photoautotroph in the oligotrophic oceans—show that vesicles are continually released by this cyanobacterium and are abundant in the marine environment. These vesicles have properties that change the way we think about genetic and biogeochemical exchange among plankton and the dissolved organic carbon pool in marine ecosystems.

S. J. Biller, F. Schubotz, S. E. Roggensack, A. W. Thompson, R. E. Summons, S. W. Chisholm, Bacterial vesicles in marine ecosystems. Science 343, 183–186 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]

D. Scanlan, Bacterial vesicles in the ocean. Science 343, 143–144 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]