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Using the VPR, scientists found surprising abundances of cyanobacterium, such as Trichodesmium thiebautii.

"Puffs" Fertilize the Sea

While towing a Video Plankton Recorder—essentially a microscope-plus-video camera—slowly across the Atlantic, ("like driving a lawnmower”), scientists found colonies like these fragile “puffs” were more abundant than previously known. Looking like dandelion seeds, these colonies of a photosynthetic bacteria (Trichodesmium) help fertilize low-nutrient areas of the ocean with nitrogen that microscopic plants need to grow. (Photo by John Waterbury, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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