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Approximately 50 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide capture is done by ocean photosynthesis, and approximately 50 percent of ocean photosynthesis occurs in cyanobacteria. This means that about 25 percent of global carbon dioxide capture is due to the presence of cyanobacteria. It’s also true that cyanobacteria generally have a negative connotation and are viewed as problematic due to the blooms of toxins they produce. Dr. Ben Long has spent much of his time studying the components of these blooms, and has recently began to investigate the potential use of cyanobacteria compounds as sources of fuel. Now working at the Australian National University College of Science, he’s also investigating how the mechanism of carbon dioxide fixation could make crop plants more efficient.

There is a lot to be discovered about cyanobacteria, and Dr. Long has made this mission his life’s work. He brings a wealth of information to today’s conversation, discussing the biochemical reactions present in cyanobacteria, the key differences (and similarities) between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, the production of mysterious toxins called microcystins, the potential ability to use cyanobacteria as sources of fuel, and the photosynthetic efficiency of C4 plants. To learn more about his work, press play, read about RIPE photosynthesis on the web, and visit

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