The Promise and Pitfalls of Extracellular Biochemistry

The open ocean can be a tough place for a microbe to make a living. While the clever light-harvesting phototrophs are busy turning solar energy into food, heterotrophs – which eat organic carbon, the remains and products of other life forms – are left waiting for the scraps.

With desperation, however, comes bold strategy. In one particularly surprising move, microbes send biochemical machinery outside the confines of the cell membrane, where the fruit of their labor is free to diffuse a

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