skip to main content

Title: Irradiance modulates thermal niche in a previously undescribed low‐light and cold‐adapted nano‐diatom

Diatoms have well‐recognized roles in fixing and exporting carbon and supplying energy to marine ecosystems, but only recently have we begun to explore the diversity and importance of nano‐ and pico‐diatoms. Here, we describe a small (ca. 5 μm) diatom from the genusChaetocerosisolated from a wintertime temperate estuary (2°C, Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island), with a unique obligate specialization for low‐light environments (< 120 μmol photons m−2 s−1). This diatom exhibits a striking interaction between irradiance and thermal responses whereby as temperatures increase, so does its susceptibility to light stress. Historical 18S rRNA amplicon data from our study site show this isolate was abundant throughout a 6‐yr period, and its presence strongly correlates with winter and early spring months when light and temperature are low. Two amplicon sequence variants matching this isolate had a circumpolar distribution in Tara Polar Ocean Circle samples, indicating its unusual light and temperature requirements are adaptations to life in a cold, dark environment. We expect this isolate's low light, psychrophilic niche to shrink as future warming‐induced stratification increases both light and temperature levels experienced by high latitude marine phytoplankton.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
1638804 1538525 1638834
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Limnology and Oceanography
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 2266-2277
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    The importance of zinc (Zn) as a nutrient and its ability to be substituted for by cobalt (Co) have been characterized in model marine diatoms. However, the extent to which this substitution capability is distributed among diatom taxa is unknown. Zn/Co metabolic substitution was assayed in four diatom species as measured by the effect of free ion concentrations of Zn2+and Co2+on specific growth rate. Analysis of growth responses found substitution of these metals can occur within the northwest Atlantic isolateThalassiosira pseudonanaCCMP1335, the northeast Atlantic isolatePhaeodactylum tricornutumCCMP632, and within the northeast Pacific isolatesPseudo‐nitzschia delicatissimaUNC1205 andThalassiosirasp. UNC1203. Metabolic substitution of Co in place of Zn in the Atlantic diatoms supports their growth in media lacking added Zn, but at the cost of reduced growth rates. In contrast, highly efficient Zn/Co substitution that supported growth even in media lacking added Zn was observed in the northeast Pacific diatoms. We also present new data from the northeast Pacific Line P transect that revealed dissolved Co and Zn ratios (dCo : dZn) as high as 3.52 : 1 at surface (0–100 m) depths. We posit that the enhanced ability of the NE Pacific diatoms to grow using Co is an adaptation to these high surface dCo : dZn ratios. Particulate metal data and single‐cell metal quotas also suggest a high Zn demand in diatoms that may be partially compensated for by Co.

    more » « less
  2. The West Antarctic Peninsula (henceforth “Peninsula”) is experiencing rapid warming and melting that is impacting the regional marine food web. The primary phytoplankton groups along the Peninsula are diatoms and cryptophytes. Relative to diatoms, there has been little focus on regional cryptophytes, and thus our understanding of their diversity and ecology is limited, especially at the species level. This gap is important, as diatoms and cryptophytes play distinct roles in the regional marine food web and biogeochemistry. Here, we use a phylogenetic placement approach with 18S rRNA gene amplicon sequence variants to assess surface ocean cryptophyte diversity and its drivers at a high taxonomic resolution along the Peninsula. Data were collected over 5 years (2012–2016) during the regional research cruises of the Palmer Long‐Term Ecological Research program. Our results indicate that there are two major cryptophyte taxa along the Peninsula, consisting of distinctGeminigeraspp., which in aggregate always comprise nearly 100% of the cryptophyte community (indicating low taxa evenness). The primary taxon dominates the cryptophyte community across all samples/years, which span a broad range of oceanographic conditions. A shift in cryptophyte community composition between a lower (higher) primary (secondary) taxon percentage is associated with distinct oceanographic conditions, including lower (higher) temperature, salinity, nutrients, and cryptophyte relative abundance (phytoplankton biomass and diatom relative abundance). These results emphasize the need for a full characterization of the ecology of these two taxa, as it is predicted that cryptophytes will increase along the Peninsula given projections of continued regional environmental change.

    more » « less
  3. Nitrogen fixers (diazotrophs) are often an important nitrogen source to phytoplankton nutrient budgets in N-limited marine environments. Diazotrophic symbioses between cyanobacteria and diatoms can dominate nitrogen-fixation regionally, particularly in major river plumes and in open ocean mesoscale blooms. This study reports the successful isolation and growth in monocultures of multiple strains of a diatom-cyanobacteria symbiosis from the Gulf of Mexico using a modified artificial seawater medium. We document the influence of light and nutrients on nitrogen fixation and growth rates of the host diatom Hemiaulus hauckii Grunow together with its diazotrophic endosymbiont Richelia intracellularis Schmidt, as well as less complete results on the Hemiaulus membranaceus - R. intracellularis symbiosis. The symbioses rates reported here are for the joint diatom-cyanobacteria unit. Symbiont diazotrophy was sufficient to support both the host diatom and cyanobacteria symbionts, and the entire symbiosis replicated and grew without added nitrogen. Maximum growth rates of multiple strains of H. hauckii symbioses in N-free medium with N 2 as the sole N source were 0.74–0.93 div d −1 . Growth rates followed light saturation kinetics in H. hauckii symbioses with a growth compensation light intensity (E C ) of 7–16 µmol m −2 s −1 and saturation light level (E K ) of 84–110 µmol m −2 s −1 . Nitrogen fixation rates by the symbiont while within the host followed a diel pattern where rates increased from near-zero in the scotophase to a maximum 4–6 h into the photophase. At the onset of the scotophase, nitrogen-fixation rates declined over several hours to near-zero values. Nitrogen fixation also exhibited light saturation kinetics. Maximum N 2 fixation rates (84 fmol N 2 heterocyst −1 h −1 ) in low light adapted cultures (50 µmol m −2 s − 1) were approximately 40–50% of rates (144–154 fmol N 2 heterocyst −1 h −1 ) in high light (150 and 200 µmol m −2 s −1 ) adapted cultures. Maximum laboratory N 2 fixation rates were ~6 to 8-fold higher than literature-derived field rates of the H. hauckii symbiosis. In contrast to published results on the Rhizosolenia-Richelia symbiosis, the H. hauckii symbiosis did not use nitrate when added, although ammonium was consumed by the H. hauckii symbiosis. Symbiont-free host cell cultures could not be established; however, a symbiont-free H. hauckii strain was isolated directly from the field and grown on a nitrate-based medium that would not support DDA growth. Our observations together with literature reports raise the possibility that the asymbiotic H. hauckii are lines distinct from an obligately symbiotic H. hauckii line. While brief descriptions of successful culture isolation have been published, this report provides the first detailed description of the approaches, handling, and methodologies used for successful culture of this marine symbiosis. These techniques should permit a more widespread laboratory availability of these important marine symbioses. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Eukaryotic microalgae play critical roles in the structure and function of marine food webs. The contribution of microalgae to food webs can be tracked using compound‐specific isotope analysis of amino acids (CSIA‐AA). Previous CSIA‐AA studies have defined eukaryotic microalgae as a single functional group in food web mixing models, despite their vast taxonomic and ecological diversity. Using controlled cultures, this work characterizes the amino acidδ13C (δ13CAA) fingerprints—a multivariate metric of amino acid carbon isotope values—of four major groups of eukaryotic microalgae: diatoms, dinoflagellates, raphidophytes, and prasinophytes. We found excellent separation of essential amino acidδ13C (δ13CEAA) fingerprints among four microalgal groups (mean posterior probability reclassification of 99.2 ± 2.9%). We also quantified temperature effects, a primary driver of microalgal bulk carbon isotope variability, on the fidelity ofδ13CAAfingerprints. A 10°C range in temperature conditions did not have significant impacts on variance inδ13CAAvalues or the diagnostic microalgalδ13CEAAfingerprints. Theseδ13CEAAfingerprints were used to identify primary producers at the base of food webs supporting consumers in two contrasting systems: (1) penguins feeding in a diatom‐based food web and (2) mixotrophic corals receiving amino acids directly from autotrophic endosymbiotic dinoflagellates and indirectly from water column diatoms, prasinophytes, and cyanobacteria, likely via heterotrophic feeding on zooplankton. The increased taxonomic specificity of CSIA‐AA fingerprints developed here will greatly improve future efforts to reconstruct the contribution of diverse eukaryotic microalgae to the sources and cycling of organic matter in food web dynamics and biogeochemical cycling studies.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    N2fixation constitutes an important new nitrogen source in the open sea. One group of filamentous N2fixing cyanobacteria (Richelia intracellularis, hereafterRichelia)form symbiosis with a few genera of diatoms. High rates of N2fixation and carbon (C) fixation have been measured in the presence of diatom-Richeliasymbioses. However, it is unknown how partners coordinate C fixation and how the symbiont sustains high rates of N2fixation. Here, both the N2and C fixation in wild diatom-Richeliapopulations are reported. Inhibitor experiments designed to inhibit host photosynthesis, resulted in lower estimated growth and depressed C and N2fixation, suggesting that despite the symbionts ability to fix their own C, they must still rely on their respective hosts for C. Single cell analysis indicated that up to 22% of assimilated C in the symbiont is derived from the host, whereas 78–91% of the host N is supplied from their symbionts. A size-dependent relationship is identified where larger cells have higher N2and C fixation, and only N2fixation was light dependent. Using the single cell measures, the N-rich phycosphere surrounding these symbioses was estimated and contributes directly and rapidly to the surface ocean rather than the mesopelagic, even at high estimated sinking velocities (<10 m d−1). Several eco-physiological parameters necessary for incorporating symbiotic N2fixing populations into larger basin scale biogeochemical models (i.e., N and C cycles) are provided.

    more » « less