Prochlorococcus

Posted on November 14, 2006  Comments (0)

She sees vistas in a tiny speck of life

Even to the most dedicated biologists, Prochlorococcus may appear to be an unpromising subject. “They have no features,” acknowledges Chisholm. “They just look like little black specks.” But she believes that these microbes are, in fact, a window onto a larger vista. A milliliter of ocean water can contain 100,000 Prochlorococcus cells.

“They’re the minimum form of life,” she says. “We’ve decoded their genome sequence and found that it’s made of 1,700 genes. That’s the smallest number of genes that can convert sunlight into life.”

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