Researchers from NAI's University of Rhode Island Team and their colleagues have studied the use of phosphorus vs. sulfur in the membrane lipid sythesis pathways of organisms resident in the ocean's subtropical gyres.
Their data show that the dominant organism in the phytoplankton, a cyanobacterium, has evolved a "sulfur-for-phosphorus" strategy; producing a membrane lipid containing sulfate and sugar instead of phosphate. This adaptation may have been a major event in Earth's early history when the relative availability of sulfate and phosphate was different than in today's oceans. Their paper appears in the June 6th issue of PNAS. [Source: NAI Newsletter]
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