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Without these ancient cells, you wouldn’t be here

By Rebecca Jacobson PBS Newshour March 6, 2014

With a “billion billion billion” Prochlorococci in the ocean — that’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 — you would think they’d be easy to find. But 25 years ago, no one knew this microscopic organism existed.

And it’s a good thing they do. Without their ancestors, we wouldn’t be breathing, says Penny Chisholm, an oceanographer who sails the seas searching for the stuff.

Read the full article here.

 

Watch the video below:

"The phytoplankton that brought Earth to life"

An ocean-dwelling organism called Prochlorococcus plays an important role in photosynthesis. Oceanographer Penny Chisholm explains. Video by Rebecca Jacobson. Additional video courtesy Eric Grabowski, NSF Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education. Images courtesy Chisholm Lab, MIT.