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Title: Role of dimethylsulfoniopropionate as an osmoprotectant following gradual salinity shifts in the sea-ice diatom Fragilariopsis cylindrus
Environmental contextDimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), a small sulfur compound biosynthesised by algae, plays an important role in global climate, particularly in polar regions. We investigated salinity effects on DMSP levels, and provide the first experimental measurements of DMSP and associated physiological changes in a polar diatom across to a range of gradual salinity shifts representative of sea-ice conditions. Quantitative estimates of DMSP in polar diatoms following salinity changes will facilitate new mathematical models to predict seasonal responses and reactions to climate change.AbstractAlthough extreme environmental gradients within sea-ice have been proposed to stimulate dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) accumulation in diatoms, a taxa whose temperate counterparts show relatively low concentrations, this has yet to be experimentally validated across a range of salinities representative of sea-ice conditions. The present study examined changes in DMSP concentrations in the widespread polar diatom Fragilariopsis cylindrus in response to gradual salinity shifts representative of those encountered during sea-ice formation and melt. DMSP concentrations were elevated up to 127% in 70-salinity cultures. Low-salinity shifts decreased intracellular DMSP concentrations in a gradient-dependent manner that suggests DMSP recycling rather than release under milder hyposalinity shifts. Permeable membranes were detected in ~45% of 10-salinity cells; therefore, loss of membrane integrity may only partially explain DMSP release in the lowest-salinity group. Growth rates, photosynthetic efficiency of photosystem II and reactive oxygen species detection indicated only partial impairment by salinity stress in this organism. Thus, experimental evidence supports the role of DMSP as a compatible solute in the acclimation of a sea-ice diatom across large salinity gradients and measurements of associated physiological changes will improve interpretation of environmental measurements.  more » « less
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Environmental Chemistry
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National Science Foundation
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