A2: Microbes in the News #3

Meet the Obscure Microbe that Influences Climate, Ocean Ecosystems, and Perhaps Even Evolution

Elizabeth Pennisi, 3/9/17, Science Magazine



Summary: Prochlorococcus is a cyanobacterium present in the ocean. It is the smallest and most abundant photosynthesizing bacteria in the ocean and is responsible for 5% of global photosynthesis. It thrives at a depth of 200 meters and has an estimated 80,000 genes (4 times the number that humans have). Penny Chisholm and two colleagues are working to show that Prochlorococcus is a central actor in evolution. They also believe that it helped to fuel to explosion of early life in oceans and the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere.


Connections: This article talks all about how a scientist by the name of Penny Chisholm is so in love with this microbe and has devoted her life to showing the world how big of an influence it has. This to me, shows the amount of dedication it takes for one to make their work known in the science world, especially when it comes to microbes because they are so abundant and diverse. Over time, she finally showed the world her work and let Prochlorococcus show it’s worth.


Critical Analysis: I love this article because it kind of motivates me in a way. Chisholm never gave up her love for this microbe and now people everywhere are starting to appreciate the work it has done on our atmosphere. I also love that it was written in terms that everyone can understand. The author even showed that it takes 220 million Volkswagen Beetles to equal the mass of Prochlorococcus in the oceans today. This was great because it really helped me imagine just how much of it is actually out there.