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Posted Fri Aug 14 2009: from National Oceanographic Centre, via EurekAlert:
Nitrogen fixation and phytoplankton blooms in the southwest Indian Ocean
Nitrogen-fixing bacteria convert atmospheric nitrogen into nitrogen compounds that organisms can then use as food. This process is thought to be important in areas of the ocean where nitrogen-based nutrients are otherwise in short supply, and the researchers confirm that this is indeed the case in the region south of Madagascar. But there were some surprises. Previously, it has been thought that the large-scale autumn bloom that develops in this region is driven by nitrogen-fixing blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, called Trichodesmium, colonies of which the researchers found to be abundant. However, the 2005 bloom was dominated by a diatom -- a type of phytoplankton -- the cells of which play host to another nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium called Richella intracellularis, with [the blue-green algae] Trichodesmium apparently playing second fiddle.... Diatoms have relatively large cells, and when they die they sink down the water column, carrying with them carbon that is ultimately derived from carbon dioxide drawn from the atmosphere though the process of photosynthesis.
[Read more stories about: ocean acidification, ocean warming]

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'Doc Jim says:
Diatoms to the rescue?
The question that I've so far been unable to answer is: how are diatoms affected by ocean acidification? As silica-based structures (acquiring silicic acid "taken up from the environmental milieu"), do they become attenuated or strengthened by acidity? If strengthened, Hurray! If weakened, however, a feedback could make the oceans rapidly less absorptive of CO2. And then, Ugh.

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  • Millions of salmon disappear from Canadian river
  • (Nitrogen fixation and phytoplankton blooms in the southwest Indian Ocean)
  • New findings show increased ocean acidification in Alaska waters
  • Argentina: Farming crisis batters world food provider

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