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Title: A tripartite model system for Southern Ocean diatom-bacterial interactions reveals the coexistence of competing symbiotic strategies

Southern Ocean (SO) diatoms play an important role in global carbon flux, and their influence on carbon export is directly linked to interactions with epiphytic bacteria. Bacterial symbionts that increase diatom growth promote atmospheric carbon uptake, while bacterial degraders divert diatom biomass into the microbial loop where it can then be released as carbon dioxide through respiration. To further explore SO diatom-bacterial associations, a natural model system is needed that is representative of these diverse and important interactions. Here, we use concurrent cultivation to isolate a species of the ecologically-important SO diatom, Pseudo-nitzschia subcurvata, and its co-occurring bacteria. Although vitamin-depleted, axenic Pseudo-nitzschia grew poorly in culture, addition of a co-isolated Roseobacter promoted diatom growth, while addition of a co-isolated Flavobacterium negatively impacted diatom growth. Microscopy revealed both bacterial isolates are physically associated with diatom cells and genome sequencing identified important predicted functions including vitamin synthesis, motility, cell attachment mechanisms, and diverse antimicrobial weapons that could be used for interbacterial competition. These findings revealed the natural coexistence of competing symbiotic strategies of diatom-associated bacteria in the SO, and the utility of this tripartite system, composed of a diatom and two bacterial strains, as a co-culture model to probe ecological-relevant interactions between diatoms and the bacteria that compete for access to the phycosphere.

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Oxford University Press
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ISME Communications
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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