by: Erin Bertrand

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation's Marine Microbiology Initiative supports Dr. Mak Saito at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to study the relationships between marine microorganisms and the cycles of various metals in the ocean environment. Metals are important because they are found in key nutrients -- vitamin B12, for example, contains cobalt. This fanciful story for Oceanus Magazine by Erin Bertrand explains the relationship of a diatom to vitamin B12, which is critical for its survival.  

The scene: A diatom is out of its oceanic habitat and on a couch, talking to a therapist. The diatom is stressed. It can’t ever seem to get enough nutrients. And it’s feeling underappreciated ... 

Diatom: People just don’t seem to understand. Without me and all the other phytoplankton producing oxygen via photosynthesis, people wouldn’t have half the oxygen they need to breathe!  We’re also the base of the ocean food chain that supports the fish they eat, and all the carbon dioxide I take up from the air to make into my body would still be in the atmosphere, making the earth heat up. Why can’t they see how important I am?

Therapist: I’m hearing that you feel undervalued. Why do you think it is that people don’t understand?

Read the full article here.



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