skip to main content


Title: Marine and terrestrial nitrifying bacteria are sources of diverse bacteriohopanepolyols
Abstract

Hopanoid lipids, bacteriohopanols and bacteriohopanepolyols, are membrane components exclusive to bacteria. Together with their diagenetic derivatives, they are commonly used as biomarkers for specific bacterial groups or biogeochemical processes in the geologic record. However, the sources of hopanoids to marine and freshwater environments remain inadequately constrained. Recent marker gene studies suggest a widespread potential for hopanoid biosynthesis in marine bacterioplankton, including nitrifying (i.e., ammonia‐ and nitrite‐oxidizing) bacteria. To explore their hopanoid biosynthetic capacities, we studied the distribution of hopanoid biosynthetic genes in the genomes of cultivated and uncultivated ammonia‐oxidizing (AOB), nitrite‐oxidizing (NOB), and complete ammonia‐oxidizing (comammox) bacteria, finding that biosynthesis of diverse hopanoids is common among seven of the nine presently cultivated clades of nitrifying bacteria. Hopanoid biosynthesis genes are also conserved among the diverse lineages of bacterial nitrifiers detected in environmental metagenomes. We selected seven representative NOB isolated from marine, freshwater, and engineered environments for phenotypic characterization. All tested NOB produced diverse types of hopanoids, with some NOB producing primarily diploptene and others producing primarily bacteriohopanepolyols. Relative and absolute abundances of hopanoids were distinct among the cultures and dependent on growth conditions, such as oxygen and nitrite limitation. Several novel nitrogen‐containing bacteriohopanepolyols were tentatively identified, of which the so called BHP‐743.6 was present in all NOB. Distinct carbon isotopic signatures of biomass, hopanoids, and fatty acids in four tested NOB suggest operation of the reverse tricarboxylic acid cycle inNitrospiraspp. andNitrospina gracilisand of the Calvin–Benson–Bassham cycle for carbon fixation inNitrobacter vulgarisandNitrococcus mobilis. We suggest that the contribution of hopanoids by NOB to environmental samples could be estimated by their carbon isotopic compositions. The ubiquity of nitrifying bacteria in the ocean today and the antiquity of this metabolic process suggest the potential for significant contributions to the geologic record of hopanoids.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
1843285 1702262
NSF-PAR ID:
10446041
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley-Blackwell
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Geobiology
Volume:
20
Issue:
3
ISSN:
1472-4677
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 399-420
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Bacterial hopanoid lipids are ubiquitous in the geologic record and serve as biomarkers for reconstructing Earth’s climatic and biogeochemical evolution. Specifically, the abundance of 2-methylhopanoids deposited during Mesozoic ocean anoxic events (OAEs) and other intervals has been interpreted to reflect proliferation of nitrogen-fixing marine cyanobacteria. However, there currently is no conclusive evidence for 2-methylhopanoid production by extant marine cyanobacteria. As an alternative explanation, here we report 2-methylhopanoid production by bacteria of the genusNitrobacter, cosmopolitan nitrite oxidizers that inhabit nutrient-rich freshwater, brackish, and marine environments. The model organismNitrobacter vulgarisproduced only trace amounts of 2-methylhopanoids when grown in minimal medium or with added methionine, the presumed biosynthetic methyl donor. Supplementation of cultures with cobalamin (vitamin B12) increased nitrite oxidation rates and stimulated a 33-fold increase of 2-methylhopanoid abundance, indicating that the biosynthetic reaction mechanism is cobalamin dependent. BecauseNitrobacterspp. cannot synthesize cobalamin, we postulate that they acquire it from organisms inhabiting a shared ecological niche—for example, ammonia-oxidizing archaea. We propose that during nutrient-rich conditions, cobalamin-based mutualism intensifies upper water column nitrification, thus promoting 2-methylhopanoid deposition. In contrast, anoxia underlying oligotrophic surface ocean conditions in restricted basins would prompt shoaling of anaerobic ammonium oxidation, leading to low observed 2-methylhopanoid abundances. The first scenario is consistent with hypotheses of enhanced nutrient loading during OAEs, while the second is consistent with the sedimentary record of Pliocene–Pleistocene Mediterranean sapropel events. We thus hypothesize that nitrogen cycling in the Pliocene–Pleistocene Mediterranean resembled modern, highly stratified basins, whereas no modern analog exists for OAEs.

     
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Nitrification is an important control on the form and distribution of nitrogen in freshwater ecosystems. However, the seasonality of nitrogen pools and the diversity of organisms catalyzing this process have not been well documented in oligotrophic lakes. Here, we show that nitrogen pools and nitrifying organisms in Flathead Lake are temporally and vertically dynamic, with nitrifiers displaying specific preferences depending on the season. While the ammonia‐oxidizing bacteria (AOB) Nitrosomonadaceae and nitrite‐oxidizing bacteria (NOB)Nitrotogadominate at depth in the summer, the ammonia‐oxidizing archaea (AOA) Nitrososphaerota and NOB Nitrospirota become abundant in the winter. Given clear seasonality in ammonium, with higher concentrations during the summer, we hypothesize that the succession between these two nitrifying groups may be due to nitrogen affinity, with AOB more competitive when ammonia concentrations are higher and AOA when they are lower. Nitrifiers in Flathead Lake share more than 99% average nucleotide identity with those reported in other North American lakes but are distinct from those in Europe and Asia, indicating a role for geographic isolation as a factor controlling speciation among nitrifiers. Our study shows there are seasonal shifts in nitrogen pools and nitrifying populations, highlighting the dynamic spatial and temporal nature of nitrogen cycling in freshwater ecosystems.

     
    more » « less
  3. null (Ed.)
    The Eastern Tropical North Pacific (ETNP) is a large, persistent, and intensifying oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) that accounts for almost half of the total area of global OMZs. Within the OMZ core (350–700 m depth), dissolved oxygen is typically near or below the analytical detection limit of modern sensors (10 nM). Steep oxygen gradients above and below the OMZ core lead to vertical structuring of microbial communities that also vary between particle-associated (PA) and free-living (FL) size fractions. Here, we use 16S amplicon sequencing (iTags) to analyze the diversity and distribution of prokaryotic populations between FL and PA size fractions and among the range of ambient redox conditions. The hydrographic conditions at our study area were distinct from those previously reported in the ETNP and other OMZs, such as the ETSP. Trace oxygen concentrations (0.35 mM) were present throughout the OMZ core at our sampling location. Consequently, nitrite accumulations typically reported for OMZ cores were absent as were sequences for anammox bacteria (Brocadiales genus Candidatus Scalindua), which are commonly found across oxic-anoxic boundaries in other systems. However, ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and archaea (AOA) distributions and maximal autotrophic carbon assimilation rates (1.4 mM C d􀀀1) coincided with a pronounced ammonium concentration maximum near the top of the OMZ core. In addition, members of the genus Nitrospina, a dominant nitrite-oxidizing bacterial (NOB) clade were present suggesting that both ammonia and nitrite oxidation occur at trace oxygen concentrations. Analysis of similarity test (ANOSIM) and Non-metric Dimensional Scaling (nMDS) revealed that bacterial and archaeal phylogenetic representations were significantly different between size fractions. Based on ANOSIM and iTag profiles, composition of PA assemblages was less influenced by the prevailing depth-dependent biogeochemical regime than the FL fraction. Based on the presence of AOA, NOB and trace oxygen in the OMZ core we suggest that nitrification is an active process in the nitrogen cycle of this region of the ETNP OMZ. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB) are important nitrifiers whose activity regulates the availability of nitrite and dictates the magnitude of nitrogen loss in ecosystems. In oxic marine sediments, ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and NOB together catalyze the oxidation of ammonium to nitrate, but the abundance ratios of AOA to canonical NOB in some cores are significantly higher than the theoretical ratio range predicted from physiological traits of AOA and NOB characterized under realistic ocean conditions, indicating that some NOBs are yet to be discovered. Here we report a bacterial phylumCandidatusNitrosediminicolota, members of which are more abundant than canonical NOBs and are widespread across global oligotrophic sediments.Ca. Nitrosediminicolota members have the functional potential to oxidize nitrite, in addition to other accessory functions such as urea hydrolysis and thiosulfate reduction. While one recovered species (Ca. Nitrosediminicola aerophilus) is generally confined within the oxic zone, another (Ca. Nitrosediminicola anaerotolerans) additionally appears in anoxic sediments. CountingCa. Nitrosediminicolota as a nitrite-oxidizer helps to resolve the apparent abundance imbalance between AOA and NOB in oxic marine sediments, and thus its activity may exert controls on the nitrite budget.

     
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Nitrifying microorganisms, including ammonia‐oxidizing archaea, ammonia‐oxidizing bacteria, and nitrite‐oxidizing bacteria, are the most abundant chemoautotrophs in the ocean and play an important role in the global carbon cycle by fixing dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) into biomass. The release of organic compounds by these microbes is not well quantified, but may represent an as‐yet unaccounted source of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) available to marine food webs. Here, we provide measurements of cellular carbon and nitrogen quotas, DIC fixation yields and DOC release of 10 phylogenetically diverse marine nitrifiers. All investigated strains released DOC during growth, representing on average 5–15% of the fixed DIC. Changes in substrate concentration and temperature did not affect the proportion of fixed DIC released as DOC, but release rates varied between closely related species. Our results also indicate previous studies may have underestimated DIC fixation yields of marine nitrite oxidizers due to partial decoupling of nitrite oxidation from CO2fixation, and due to lower observed yields in artificial compared to natural seawater medium. The results of this study provide critical values for biogeochemical models of the global carbon cycle, and help to further constrain the implications of nitrification‐fueled chemoautotrophy for marine food‐web functioning and the biological sequestration of carbon in the ocean.

     
    more » « less