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Title: Differentiated Evolutionary Strategies of Genetic Diversification in Atlantic and Pacific Thaumarchaeal Populations
ABSTRACT Some marine microbes are seemingly “ubiquitous,” thriving across a wide range of environmental conditions. While the increased depth in metagenomic sequencing has led to a growing body of research on within-population heterogeneity in environmental microbial populations, there have been fewer systematic comparisons and characterizations of population-level genetic diversity over broader expanses of time and space. Here, we investigated the factors that govern the diversification of ubiquitous microbial taxa found within and between ocean basins. Specifically, we use mapped metagenomic paired reads to examine the genetic diversity of ammonia-oxidizing archaeal (“ Candidatus Nitrosopelagicus brevis”) populations in the Pacific (Hawaii Ocean Time-series [HOT]) and Atlantic (Bermuda Atlantic Time Series [BATS]) Oceans sampled over 2 years. We observed higher nucleotide diversity in “ Ca. N. brevis” at HOT, driven by a higher rate of homologous recombination. In contrast, “ Ca. N. brevis” at BATS featured a more open pangenome with a larger set of genes that were specific to BATS, suggesting a history of dynamic gene gain and loss events. Furthermore, we identified highly differentiated genes that were regulatory in function, some of which exhibited evidence of recent selective sweeps. These findings indicate that different modes of genetic diversification likely incur specific more » adaptive advantages depending on the selective pressures that they are under. Within-population diversity generated by the environment-specific strategies of genetic diversification is likely key to the ecological success of “ Ca. N. brevis.” IMPORTANCE Ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) are one of the most abundant chemolithoautotrophic microbes in the marine water column and are major contributors to global carbon and nitrogen cycling. Despite their ecological importance and geographical pervasiveness, there have been limited systematic comparisons and characterizations of their population-level genetic diversity over time and space. Here, we use metagenomic time series from two ocean observatories to address the fundamental questions of how abiotic and biotic factors shape the population-level genetic diversity and how natural microbial populations adapt across diverse habitats. We show that the marine AOA “ Candidatus Nitrosopelagicus brevis” in different ocean basins exhibits distinct modes of genetic diversification in response to their selective regimes shaped by nutrient availability and patterns of environmental fluctuations. Our findings specific to “ Ca. N. brevis” have broader implications, particularly in understanding the population-level responses to the changing climate and predicting its impact on biogeochemical cycles. « less
Bowman, Jeff
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National Science Foundation
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  4. Abstract

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