Microbial degradation of Dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) in the sunlit ocean

Dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) is an organic sulphur compound found everywhere in our oceans, and is produced by a number of natural biological and chemical processes. DMSO is important because it is both a source and a sink for a climate-cooling gas called dimethyl sulfide (DMS).

DMS is a component of the smell of the seaside. Around 300 million tons of DMS are made each year by marine microorganisms, the majority of which gets converted to DMSO. However what happens to this DMSO largely remains a mystery and is thus the focus of this project. DMSO is recognised as the most abundant organic sulphur compound in the oceans, and represents a major pool of the essential life elements sulphur and carbon.

In this project, PML scientists will focus on finding out what happens to DMSO in seawater, using our local coastal observing station L4 where in-situ measurements are undertaken weekly.

This project has been completed

Key information

Funder: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

Project start date: March 2014

Project end date: March 2017

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Dr Joanna L Dixon
Marine Biogeochemist

Other participants

Dr Frances Hopkins