Courtesy Wikipedia

Courtesy Wikipedia

The Times of Israel reports that Israeli researchers at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot say they have identified an enzyme in ocean algae responsible for producing the scent of the sea.

While scientists have long known that the familiar smell is caused by the molecule dimethylsulfide (DMS), which algae produce in large amounts, the exact mechanism by which the molecule is created is still being studied.

In the study published in Science magazine, the Israeli team said it had identified the enzyme Alma1 as responsible for converting the molecule dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) into DMS in the algae Emiliania huxleyi.

They said DMS production in various forms of E. huxleyi correlated with the levels of Alma1 present in the algae. The role of DMS is significant. The sulfuric compound is thought to play a major part in cloud formation above the seas, and is also used by various birds and marine animals to navigate.