Behind the paper
Share the real story behind your paper, from conception to publication, the highs and the lows.
Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (helpfully abbreviated to DMSP) is produced in huge quantities (estimated over 1 billion tonnes per year) by marine phytoplankton, seaweeds, corals and, as we recently found, bacteria as well. The precise function of DMSP in the organisms that produce it is not known although roles including osmoprotection, cryoprotection, oxidative stress protection, predator deterrence and removal of excess sulfur have been suggested. Once outside the cell, the sheer amount of carbon and sulfur available from this molecule make it a key nutrient, and many microorganisms in the marine environment have taken full advantage of this. Many of these microorganisms break down DMSP into the gas dimethylsulfide (DMS). DMS is a key player in the global sulfur cycle and has potential links to climate through its role in cloud formation over the oceans. DMS is sometimes referred to as the ‘smell of the seaside’ for the fact that this highly odorous gas is a major part of the smell we encounter when we visit the beach, but importantly it is also detectable by animals, such as seabirds and seals, which may use it to locate their food.
Influenza viruses cause acute respiratory infections and affect 5-15% of the world’s population each year, making it one of the most pressing public health concerns. The breadth of protection offered by current seasonal influenza vaccines is very limited due to the antigenic changes in circulating influenza viruses. Therefore, developing more broadly protective, or “universal” influenza vaccines that also provides long-term immunity against divergent influenza virus strains is of high importance in mitigating disease brought on by seasonal epidemics and the occasional pandemics.