The availability of fixed nitrogen (N) is an important factor limiting biological productivity in the oceans. In coastal waters, high dissolved inorganic N concentrations were historically thought to inhibit dinitrogen (N2) fixation, however, recent N2fixation measurements and the presence of the N2-fixing UCYN-A/haptophyte symbiosis in nearshore waters challenge this paradigm. We characterized the contribution of UCYN-A symbioses to nearshore N2fixation in the Southern California Current System (SCCS) by measuring bulk community and single-cell N2fixation rates, as well as diazotroph community composition and abundance. UCYN-A1 and UCYN-A2 symbioses dominated diazotroph communities throughout the region during upwelling and oceanic seasons. Bulk N2fixation was detected in most surface samples, with rates up to 23.0 ± 3.8 nmol N l−1 d−1, and was often detected at the deep chlorophyll maximum in the presence of nitrate (>1 µM). UCYN-A2 symbiosis N2fixation rates were higher (151.1 ± 112.7 fmol N cell−1 d−1) than the UCYN-A1 symbiosis (6.6 ± 8.8 fmol N cell−1 d−1). N2fixation by the UCYN-A1 symbiosis accounted for a majority of the measured bulk rates at two offshore stations, while the UCYN-A2 symbiosis was an important contributor in three nearshore stations. This report of active UCYN-A symbioses and broad mesoscale distribution patterns establishes UCYN-A symbioses as the dominant diazotrophs in the SCCS, where heterocyst-forming and unicellular cyanobacteria are less prevalent, and provides evidence that the two dominant UCYN-A sublineages are separate ecotypes.
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Frontiers in Marine Science
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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null (Ed.)Abstract The microbial fixation of N 2 is the largest source of biologically available nitrogen (N) to the oceans. However, it is the most energetically expensive N-acquisition process and is believed inhibited when less energetically expensive forms, like dissolved inorganic N (DIN), are available. Curiously, the cosmopolitan N 2 -fixing UCYN-A/haptophyte symbiosis grows in DIN-replete waters, but the sensitivity of their N 2 fixation to DIN is unknown. We used stable isotope incubations, catalyzed reporter deposition fluorescence in-situ hybridization (CARD-FISH), and nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (nanoSIMS), to investigate the N source used by the haptophyte host and sensitivity of UCYN-A N 2 fixation in DIN-replete waters. We demonstrate that under our experimental conditions, the haptophyte hosts of two UCYN-A sublineages do not assimilate nitrate (NO 3 − ) and meet little of their N demands via ammonium (NH 4 + ) uptake. Instead the UCYN-A/haptophyte symbiosis relies on UCYN-A N 2 fixation to supply large portions of the haptophyte’s N requirements, even under DIN-replete conditions. Furthermore, UCYN-A N 2 fixation rates, and haptophyte host carbon fixation rates, were at times stimulated by NO 3 − additions in N-limited waters suggesting a link between the activities of the bulk phytoplankton assemblage and the UCYN-A/haptophyte symbiosis. The results suggest N 2 fixation may be an evolutionarily viable strategy for diazotroph–eukaryote symbioses, even in N-rich coastal or high latitude waters.more » « less
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