Chemist Mak Saito and colleagues recently reported that a marine bacterium recycles and reuses a scarce nutrient, iron. Crocosphaera watsonii disassembles iron-containing enzymes used by night and builds the iron into enzymes for daytime photosynthesis. Using cultures maintained by microbiologist John Waterbury and researcher Frederica Valois, Saito, student Erin Bertrand, and researcher Dawn Moran analyzed Crocosphaera’s protein complement, revealing the daily switch. C. watsonii was discovered by Waterbury, Valois, and the late microbiologist Stanley W. Watson, namesake for the species and WHOI’s Watson Laboratory. From left, Moran, Saito (with C. watsonii), Waterbury, Bertrand, and Valois hold colorful cultures of differently pigmented bacteria from Waterbury’s collection.
(Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)