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Hottest Fixer: Undersea-vent microbe sets nitrogen record

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10:59am, December 13, 2006

A spherical microbe from the weird world of hot-water ocean vents has trumped the nitrogen-processing powers of all organisms previously studied.

Like some soil microbes and bacteria living in pea plants and their relatives, the microbe known as FS406-22 turns plain nitrogen (N2) into a form that other living creatures can use, explains Mausmi P. Mehta of the University of Washington in Seattle. However, FS406-22 does the chemistry at 92°C (198°F). That's 28°C above the record set by the previous champ, a microbe collected from sea sediments near Naples, Italy.

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