SAR11, the most abundant plankton in the world’s oceans, are pumping out massive amounts of two sulfur gases that play important roles in stabilizing the Earth’s atmosphere, researchers announced in the journal Nature Microbiology.
"Everyone knows these gases by their smells," said Steve Giovannoni, a distinguished professor of microbiology in the College of Science, and corresponding author of the study.
“One of these compounds – dimethylsulfide, or DMS - we recognize as the smell of the sea. The other gas - methanethiol - makes us think of leaking gas lines. In the atmosphere, dimethylsulfide oxidizes to sulfuric acid, which some scientists think can seed cloud formation and alter heating of the Earth.”