“Niche” enzymology

Our knowledge of how enzyme work and how they evolved is mostly based on explorations of model organisms such as E. coli. However, life goes far beyond model organisms. The oceans, where life began, and about a third of this planet’s biomass resides, in a largely unexplored enzyme territory. Here, our interest lies primarily in the enzymes that produce the ‘smell of sea’ – dimethyl sulfide (DMS), and its precursor dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP). These metabolites that may seem esoteric are produced at a rate of over 109 tons per year.