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Marine microbes fritter away jelly bonus

Bacterial feasts during jellyfish blooms drain valuable carbon out of the food web

4:38pm, June 7, 2011

Dissolved jellyfish slime turns out to be like candy for marine microbes. But the sugar high they get from feasting during a jellyfish bloom busts a leak in marine food webs that shunts valuable carbon away from fish.

Marine microbes munch on the goo that sloughs off various kinds of filmy sea animals. Booms in the jellyfish population — called blooms, which may be growing more frequent — mean an even bigger feast for bacteria. The problem is, that feast doesn’t get very far in the food web, says Rob Condon of Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama.

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