Ocean microbes orchestrate gene activity

5:04PM, JULY 10, 2014

Science Ticker: Guest post by Tina Hesman Saey

Ocean microbes choreograph their activities, a study in the July 11 Science suggests.

Scientists already knew that photosynthetic bacteria coordinate gene activity with the sun, but marine microbiologist Edward DeLong of MIT and the University of Hawaii and colleagues now report that nonphotosynthetic ocean bacteria also turn on certain genes at the same time each day. The finding was a surprise. “We don’t tend to think of microbes as being highly orchestrated,” DeLong says. Figuring out what drives the daily cycles is the next step.


Bacteria in the ocean, such as those seen in this false color image, have daily cycles of gene activity, even if they don’t perform photosynthesis.