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Molecular vibrations of water predict global distributions of photosynthetic organisms in lakes and oceans

Molecular vibrations of water predict global distributions of photosynthetic organisms in lakes and oceans
Marine cyanobacteria with different photosynthetic pigments. Credit: Laurence Garczarek

Why have cyanobacteria and algae evolved a wide variety of photosynthetic pigments, and how are these pigments distributed geographically? Scientists from the University of Amsterdam and Roscoff (France) give an intriguing answer to these questions in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.


With the help of optical models, satellite remote sensing and oceanographic cruises the scientists show that the tiny vibrations of water molecules explain the large-scale geographical distributions of the major photosynthetic pigments across the lakes and oceans of our planet.

Photosynthesis is a key process sustaining nearly all life on Earth, by releasing oxygen into the atmosphere and providing the basis for all food production. Compared to the green leaves on our terrestrial world, photosynthetic organisms of freshwater and marine ecosystems span a much wider range of colors. The lakes and oceans of our planet are teeming with

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