Scientists have found that marine cyanobacteria, the most abundant photosynthetic organism on our planet, survived and thrived by altering its metabolism.
This ability was developed in response to a low-oxygen environment and ultimately led to the rise of the “Great Oxidation” and life on earth as we know it.
However, two marine cyanobacteria were unknown to science until the end of the last century when the main genera, Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus were discovered by researchers at the University of Cordoba.
Building on previous research, scientists have discovered that the organisms performed a series of adaptations allowing them to flourish. According to Professor Jesús Díez Dapena, who led the initial study:
“In addition, they adapted many aspects of their metabolism. When there is hardly any nitrogen, they synthesize proteins very similar to those that would exist under normal conditions, but they’re smaller. They are reduced-size proteins, which work, but they need less nitrogen for their production…depending on the concentration and form of nitrogen found in one area of the ocean, different varieties will emerge, according to the set of genes that allows them to survive in that environment.”
You can find the original study here.