Mixotrophic Organisms May Have Large Impact On Global Carbon Cycle
Researchers at MIT and Bristol University in the United Kingdom have found that microscopic, mixotrophic organisms may have a large impact on the ocean’s food web and the global carbon cycle.
The scientists developed a mixotrophic model of the global ocean food web, at the scale of marine plankton, in which they gave each plankton class the ability to both photosynthesize and consume prey. They found that, compared with traditional models that do not take mixotrophs into account, their model produced larger, heavier plankton throughout the ocean. As these more substantial microbes die, the researchers found they increase the flux of sinking organic carbon particles by as much as 35 percent.