Although the oceans cover 70 percent of the planet’s surface, much of their biomedical potential has gone largely unexplored. Until now. A group of researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, have for the first time shown that sediments in the deep ocean are a significant biomedical resource for microbes that produce antibiotic molecules. In a series of two papers, a group led by William Fenical, director of the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine (CMBB) at Scripps Institution, has reported the discovery of a novel group of bacteria found to produce molecules with potential in the treatment of infectious diseases and cancer.
The culmination of hundreds of research dives, scientific analysis, and high-tech mapping software has led to a fundamentally new approach for designing networks of marine reserves. An effort led by researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and reported in the Dec. 6 issue of Science, could become a powerful new method for decision makers charged with developing marine reserves and a forerunner for similar efforts around the world.
The ecological importance of phytoplankton, microscopic plants that free-float through the world’s oceans, is well known. Among their key roles, the one-celled organisms are the major source of sustenance for animal life in the seas. Now, researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego say that phytoplankton exert a significant and previously uncalculated influence on Earth’s climate.
In the spring of 2001, two robotic Carbon Explorer floats recorded the rapid growth of phytoplankton in the upper layers of the North Pacific Ocean after a passing storm had deposited iron-rich dust from the Gobi Desert. The carbon measurements, reported in the October 25 issue of Science, are the first direct observation of wind-blown terrestrial dust fertilizing the growth of aquatic plant life.