100-word explainer: How microalgae produce nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide (N2O) — a potent greenhouse and ozone-depleting gas — is rising at the fastest rate in 22,000 years. N2O correlates with the growth of microalgae: primary biomass producers in oceans and lakes. There’s evidence that microalgae produce N2O, but the full biochemical insight is missing.

A preprint study found that the green microalga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, produces N2O by: (1) using “flavodiiron proteins” in the light; and (2) using “cytochrome P450 enzymes” in the dark.

Microalgae are used in industrial productions (e.g. biofuels). Therefore, information on N2O production will ensure the right selection of microalgae for sustainable, environmentally-friendly industrial applications.

Read the full study titled: “Algal photosynthesis converts nitric oxide into nitrous oxide” in bioRxiv preprint: https://doi.org/10.1101/745463

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