A team of researchers at the University of Washington is the first to show that certain single-celled organisms in the ocean make the vitamin B-12, according to a release. The organisms, known as archaea, are related to bacteria but appear to have evolved separately.
Samples of the organisms were collected on research cruises in the Pacific Ocean and then taken to the university’s marine chemistry center. There researchers evaluated them using liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry.
Though making B-12 organically is a difficult process because the vitamin has a metal core and a complex surrounding structure, researchers say the archaea make enough to support their own growth and supply some to the surrounding environment. Their finding was made after they were able to grow one of the organisms in their lab.