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At the Marine Biological Laboratory, Senior Scientist Joseph Vallino is researching how microbes impact the chemistry of the ocean.

He joins the podcast to discuss his work in the field of biogeochemistry, which includes questions like the following:

  • What dictates the distribution of microbes and what types of metabolic activities they carry out in ocean water
  • How the dissipation of energy gradients in nonliving systems works, and how this idea can be applied to biological systems to better understand how living organisms organize
  • How the theory of maximum entropy production relates to marine biology and microbial function

There are thousands of different species of bacteria and phytoplankton in just one liter of ocean water, and billions of individual microbes. Since they all carry out different metabolic processes at different times and in different locations, it can be difficult to develop a holistic understanding of the complex chemistry that’s occurring in the ocean.

In order to navigate this difficulty, Vallino is using the laws of thermodynamics and applying the function of nonliving systems to the function of biological systems. He explains his unique approach to this problem, shares the insight he’s learned so far, and touches on a range of other interesting topics, including areas of active research in the field such as energy utilization science and microbial energy research.

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