An interesting new molecule was found to be produced in ocean waters over most of the globe: dimethylsulfoxonium propionate (DMSOP). It is present in marine algae that contain compound dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), a well-known antioxidant that is produced by marine algae in massive quantities - 2 billion tons annually - on a global scale. But unlike DMSP, DMSOP has no known biological functions and is a member of a structural class of molecules that is virtually unknown in nature.
The work was published in Nature. The work was done by at the Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) campus of SUNY, and the Friedrich-Schiller University Jena in Germany. Liang Chen, a Ph.D. student in the Environmental Chemistry track at ESF, participated in the research, under the supervision of Dr. David J. Kieber.
DMSP is ubiquitous in the surface oceans and has been studied intensively for more than 30 years because scientists believe it affects climate through the production of a volatile dimethylsulfide. The lead author from ESF, Dr. Kieber, is also interested in DMSP because it is a key compound in harmful marine algal blooms that plague coastal communities worldwide. It also plays a significant role in the occurrence of several large algal blooms in Antarctica, which he has studied in past projects.