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Images: Recycling Rare, Essential Nutrients in the Sea

Got iron? It's an essential nutrient for living things, but it's scarce in the ocean. Scientists have found that a key marine bacterium may have evolved a remarkable biochemical way to recycle it and reduce its iron requirments by half. (Illustration by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Electron microscopic image of the cyanobacterium, Crocosphaera watsonii. (John Waterbury and Freddy Valois, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution )

Crocosphaera watsonii is named after WHOI microbiologist Stanley W. Watson who, in the 1970s, with colleagues Freddy  Valois (left) and John Waterbury (center), discovered the cyanobacteria’s abundance and importance in the ocean. Using Crocosphaera cultures maintained by Waterbury and Valois, WHOI biogeochemist Mak Saito (second from right), graduate student Erin Bertrand (second from left), and lab associate Dawn Moran (right) analyzed the bacterium’s proteome (the sum of its proteins) to elucidate Crocosphaera’s neat biochemical strategy to conserve scarce iron for its metabolic activities. The researchers all work in the Stanley W. Watson Laboratory at WHOI. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)