The ocean has been sucking up heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) building up in our atmosphere–with a little help from tiny plankton. Like plants on land, these plankton convert CO2 into organic carbon via photosynthesis. But unlike land plants that are held fast to terra firma, plankton can sink into the deep ocean, carrying carbon with them. Along the way they decompose when bacteria convert their remains back into CO2… Edwards, her advisor, WHOI scientist Ben Van Mooy, and co-author Kay Bidle from Rutgers University went to sea to collect and analyze particle samples from several locations across the North Atlantic, including the Sargasso Sea, the subarctic North Atlantic near Iceland, and the western North Atlantic near Massachusetts. The spatial coverage was important, Van Mooy said… “We typically think of temperature and other physiochemical factors as being critically important in determining the bacterial processing of diatom detritus and how deep it sinks in the ocean, but this work shows that the molecular composition of ‘infochemicals’ really matters,” said Bidle.