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...and we can't live without them. Microbes dominate our planet, especially the oceans. They're tiny—usually less than 100 micrometers, and invisible to the human eye. But these tiny, one-celled creatures make all other life on Earth possible. Microbes produce oxygen, help moderate the Earth's climate by consuming carbon dioxide, and form the base of the marine food web. They are also the planet's main decomposers—without them, we'd be surrounded by garbage! Yet we know very little about marine microbes. For example, less than 1% of the bacteria in the ocean have been cultured.
Researchers at the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education are working to understand how marine microbes function in—and influence—the Earth's most dominant feature: the ocean. They get out on the ocean, make field observations of microorganisms, and use the information to develop and test hypotheses. Their research focuses on the role that microbes play in global biogeochemical cycles, energy transduction, and related ecosystem processes.