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Trends Microbiol. 2002 Sep;10(9):410-8.

Nutrient dynamics in the deep blue sea.

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Dept of Oceanography, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA.


For more than a century, oceanographers have studied the interactions between the photosynthetic production of organic matter and nutrient dynamics in the sea. This research has been field-oriented and transdisciplinary, occurring at the intersections of research in microbiology, physics, analytical chemistry, cell physiology and ecology. The global database derived from this collective effort established a sound scientific understanding of nutrient dynamics and the vital role of microorganisms, both autotrophic and heterotrophic, in the coupled organic-matter production and decomposition cycles in the sea. However, novel approaches used over the past two decades, including new designs for field experiments, repeat field observations and remote-sensing capabilities, together with updated methods of sample analysis, have led to a revolution in our thinking about the mechanisms and controls of nutrient dynamics in the deep blue sea. Contemporary paradigms bear only partial resemblance to the dogma of the past, and are likely to evolve further as new data and new ideas are presented for open discussion and debate.

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