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Title: Bioavailable iron titrations reveal oceanic Synechococcus ecotypes optimized for different iron availabilities

The trace metal iron (Fe) controls the diversity and activity of phytoplankton across the surface oceans, a paradigm established through decades of in situ and mesocosm experimental studies. Despite widespread Fe-limitation within high-nutrient, low chlorophyll (HNLC) waters, significant contributions of the cyanobacteriumSynechococcusto the phytoplankton stock can be found. Correlations among differing strains ofSynechococcusacross different Fe-regimes have suggested the existence of Fe-adapted ecotypes. However, experimental evidence of high- versuslow-Fe adapted strains ofSynechococcusis lacking, and so we investigated the transcriptional responses of microbial communities inhabiting the HNLC, sub-Antarctic region of the Southern Ocean during the Spring of 2018. Analysis of metatranscriptomes generated from on-deck incubation experiments reflecting a gradient of Fe-availabilities reveal transcriptomic signatures indicative of co-occurringSynechococcusecotypes adapted to differing Fe-regimes. Functional analyses comparing low-Fe and high-Fe conditions point to various Fe-acquisition mechanisms that may allow persistence of low-Fe adaptedSynechococcusunder Fe-limitation. Comparison of in situ surface conditions to the Fe-titrations indicate ecological relevance of these mechanisms as well as persistence of both putative ecotypes within this region. This Fe-titration approach, combined with transcriptomics, highlights the short-term responses of the in situ phytoplankton community to Fe-availability that are often overlooked by examining genomic content or bulk physiological responses alone. These findings expand more » our knowledge about how phytoplankton in HNLC Southern Ocean waters adapt and respond to changing Fe supply.

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ISME Communications
Nature Publishing Group
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National Science Foundation
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