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News Release 11-095

Scientists Discover Animal-like Urea Cycle in Tiny Diatoms in the Ocean

Cycle enables marine phytoplankton to use carbon and nitrogen from their environment

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Micrograph of the fusiform morphotype of the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum.

Micrograph of the fusiform morphotype of the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum.

Credit: Alessandra De Martino, Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris


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Illustration showing the urea cycle in marine diatoms.

Schematic of urea cycle in marine diatoms; the cycle helps in recovery from nutrient starvation.

Credit: Andrew Allen, JCVI, et al.


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Micrograph of the marine diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum overexpressing a urea cycle protein.

Micrograph of the marine diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum overexpressing a urea cycle protein.

Credit: Andew Allen, JCVI, et al.


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Micrographs, clockwise from top right, of oval, triradiate and fusiform P. tricornutum morphotypes.

Micrographs of (clockwise from top right) oval, triradiate and fusiform P. tricornutum morphotypes.

Credit: Alessandra De Martino, Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris


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Micrographs of diatoms found near Antarctica.

Diatoms found near Antarctica: major contributors to the Southern Ocean food web.

Credit: Dawn Moran, Woods Hole Oceanographic Instititution, and Andrew Allen, JCVI


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Micrograph of diatoms from Puget Sound, Washington.

Diatoms from Puget Sound, Washington; diatoms are a critical part of the marine environment.

Credit: Adrian Marchetti, University of Washington, and Andrew Allen, JCVI


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