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Multitasking Is This Plankton's Trademark Questions


Nitrogen fixation is the conversion of atmospheric nitrogen (N2) into forms that organisms can use (NH4+, NO2-, NO3-). Only a few microbes are able to do this! We may have Trichodesmium in the waters around Whidbey Island since we have red tides here.

Answer the questions in complete sentences on a separate sheet of paper.

  1. The cyanobacteria Trichodesmium processes _______________ to make ammonia and produces ___________ as part of photosynthesis.
  2. Why did your answer to number 1 cause researchers to wonder about Trichodesmium?
  3. Trichodesmium is a _______________ plankton.
  4. How long have researchers been puzzled about Trichodesmium?
  5. How does Trichodesmium stimulate ocean productivity?
  6. Describe why oxygen is a problem for nitrogen-fixing organisms.
  7. What is the gender of co-author Dr. Berman-Frank?
  8. Those microbiologists! What is the joke in saying Dr. Dugdale's observations 40 years ago were "nitrogen fiction"?
  9. What did Dr. Berman-Frank find that showed how the oxygen-producing enzymes associated with photosynthesis did not interfere with nitrogenase activity.
  10. What two findings make researchers think that Trichodesmium has "exquisite control over where and when these two processes go on."
  11. Describe the disagreement Dr Berman-Frank and Dr. Zehr have about Trichodesmium's place in evolution.


Pennisi, Elizabeth. "Multitasking is this Plankton's Trademark". Science. Nov 16, 2001. Vol 294. No. 5546.