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University of Leeds

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Mailard reaction helps store carbon on the seafloor.

A chemical process that occurs in the browning of food to give it its distinct smell and taste is probably happening deep in the oceans, where it helped create the conditions necessary for life, researchers say. Known as the Maillard reaction, after the French scientist who discovered it, in the kitchen the process is used to create flavours and aromas out of sugars. It converts small molecules of organic carbon into bigger molecules known as polymers. Our experiments have shown that in the presence of key elements, namely iron and manganese which are found in sea water, the rate of reaction is increased by tens of times ~Dr Oliver Moore, University of Leeds. According to the experts, it has helped raise oxygen and reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, to create the conditions for complex life forms to emerge and thrive on Earth. The findings indicate that the reactions lock away four million tonnes of organic carbon a year. Dr Oliver Moore, first author in the study and a Research Fellow in Biogeochemistry in the School of Earth and Environment at Leeds, said: “It had been suggested back in the 1970s that the Maillard reaction might occur in marine sediments, but the process was thought to be too slow to impact the conditions that exist on Earth. “Our experiments have shown that in the presence of key elements, namely iron and manganese which are found in sea water, the rate of reaction is increased by tens of times. “Over Earth’s long history, this may have helped create the conditions necessary for complex life to inhabit the Earth.” In order to test their theory, the researchers looked at what happened to simple organic compounds when mixed with different forms of iron and manganese in the laboratory at the temperature of the seabed – 10C. Analysis was conducted at the Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire, the UK’s synchrotron which generates intense beams of light energy to reveal the atomic structure of samples. It revealed that the chemical fingerprint of the laboratory samples matched those from sediment samples taken from seabed locations around the world. Researchers suggest the lessons learned could be used to harness new approaches to tackling modern-day climate change..

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  • We Don't Have Time

    44 w

    Dear PRINCESS NEL Your climate love has received over 50 agrees! We have reached out to University of Leeds by email and requested a response. I will keep you updated on any progress! To reach more people and increase the chance of a response, click the Share button above to share the review on your social accounts. For every new member that joins We Don't Have Time from your network, we will plant a tree and attribute it to you! /Adam, We Don't Have Time

    • Ajema Lydiah

      45 w

      great efforts

    • Munene Mugambi

      45 w

      Such research that helps us achieve our climate goals is valuable. Well done

    • johnte ndeto

      45 w

      Such an innovative way to store carbon on the seafloor

      • Princess

        43 w

        @johntendeto just another brilliant idea 💡

      • Richard Orengo

        45 w

        This is a good discovery

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