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Images: Proteomics Reveals Ocean's Inner Workings

A team led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientists analyzed proteins from microbial life in seawater samples collected during a research cruise along a 2,500-mile stretch in the Pacific Ocean, from Hawaii to Samoa. In a new study, they identified and measured proteins in seawater, which revealed how microbial life used various biochemical mechanisms to adapt to different environmental conditions. The new study demonstrated that proteomic techniques can be applied to marine environments to map when, where, and how ecosystem changes occurred over broad areas of the ocean. (Eric S. Taylor, WHOI Graphic Services)

From Hawaii to Samoa, environmental conditions vary from regions with low nitrogen and phosphorus levels, to regions with low iron levels, and regions low in all three nutrients. In between, the researchers observed zones where conditions transitioned. Proteins identified and measured by scientists in these regions indicated how microbes adapted their biochemical machinery to negotiate different conditions in different places.

(Eric S. Taylor, WHOI Graphic Services)
WHOI biogeochemist Mak Saito, left, and WHOI researcher Matt McIlvin show off mass spectrometers that are key instruments in their efforts to expand the use of proteomics in oceanography. "Proteomics is a potentially powerful tool we can use to reveal the inner biochemical workings of organisms within ocean ecosystems aand understand how they respond to global changes,” Saito said. (Jayne Doucette, WHOI Graphic Services)
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