skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, June 13 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, June 14 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


This content will become publicly available on November 22, 2024

Title: Decoupling silicon metabolism from carbon and nitrogen assimilation poises diatoms to exploit episodic nutrient pulses in a coastal upwelling system

Diatoms serve as the major link between the marine carbon (C) and silicon (Si) biogeochemical cycles through their contributions to primary productivity and requirement for Si during cell wall formation. Although several culture-based studies have investigated the molecular response of diatoms to Si and nitrogen (N) starvation and replenishment, diatom silicon metabolism has been understudied in natural populations. A series of deckboard Si-amendment incubations were conducted using surface water collected in the California Upwelling Zone near Monterey Bay. Steep concentration gradients in macronutrients in the surface ocean coupled with substantial N and Si utilization led to communities with distinctly different macronutrient states: replete (‘healthy’), low N (‘N-stressed’), and low N and Si (‘N- and Si-stressed’). Biogeochemical measurements of Si uptake combined with metatranscriptomic analysis of communities incubated with and without added Si were used to explore the underlying molecular response of diatom communities to different macronutrient availability. Metatranscriptomic analysis revealed that N-stressed communities exhibited dynamic shifts in N and C transcriptional patterns suggestive of compromised metabolism. Expression patterns in communities experiencing both N and Si stress imply that the presence of Si stress may partially ameliorate N stress and dampen the impact on organic matter metabolism. This response builds upon previous observations that the regulation of C and N metabolism is decoupled from Si limitation status, where Si stress allows the cell to optimize the metabolic machinery necessary to respond to episodic pulses of nutrients. Several well-characterized Si-metabolism associated genes were found to be poor molecular markers of Si physiological status; however, several uncharacterized Si-responsive genes were revealed to be potential indicators of Si stress or silica production.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
2049386
NSF-PAR ID:
10493912
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Frontiers in Marine Science
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Frontiers in Marine Science
Volume:
10
ISSN:
2296-7745
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Huber, Julie A. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Wind-driven upwelling followed by relaxation results in cycles of cold nutrient-rich water fueling intense phytoplankton blooms followed by nutrient depletion, bloom decline, and sinking of cells. Surviving cells at depth can then be vertically transported back to the surface with upwelled waters to seed another bloom. As a result of these cycles, phytoplankton communities in upwelling regions are transported through a wide range of light and nutrient conditions. Diatoms appear to be well suited for these cycles, but their responses to them remain understudied. To investigate the bases for diatoms’ ecological success in upwelling environments, we employed laboratory simulations of a complete upwelling cycle with a common diatom, Chaetoceros decipiens , and coccolithophore, Emiliania huxleyi . We show that while both organisms exhibited physiological and transcriptomic plasticity, the diatom displayed a distinct response enabling it to rapidly shift-up growth rates and nitrate assimilation when returned to light and available nutrients following dark nutrient-deplete conditions. As observed in natural diatom communities, C. decipiens highly expresses before upwelling, or frontloads, key transcriptional and nitrate assimilation genes, coordinating its rapid response to upwelling conditions. Low-iron simulations showed that C. decipiens is capable of maintaining this response when iron is limiting to growth, whereas E. huxleyi is not. Differential expression between iron treatments further revealed specific genes used by each organism under low iron availability. Overall, these results highlight the responses of two dominant phytoplankton groups to upwelling cycles, providing insight into the mechanisms fueling diatom blooms during upwelling events. IMPORTANCE Coastal upwelling regions are among the most biologically productive ecosystems. During upwelling events, nutrient-rich water is delivered from depth resulting in intense phytoplankton blooms typically dominated by diatoms. Along with nutrients, phytoplankton may also be transported from depth to seed these blooms then return to depth as upwelling subsides creating a cycle with varied conditions. To investigate diatoms’ success in upwelling regions, we compare the responses of a common diatom and coccolithophore throughout simulated upwelling cycles under iron-replete and iron-limiting conditions. The diatom exhibited a distinct rapid response to upwelling irrespective of iron status, whereas the coccolithophore’s response was either delayed or suppressed depending on iron availability. Concurrently, the diatom highly expresses, or frontloads, nitrate assimilation genes prior to upwelling, potentially enabling this rapid response. These results provide insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying diatom blooms and ecological success in upwelling regions. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    In the California Current Ecosystem, upwelled water low in dissolved iron (Fe) can limit phytoplankton growth, altering the elemental stoichiometry of the particulate matter and dissolved macronutrients. Iron-limited diatoms can increase biogenic silica (bSi) content >2-fold relative to that of particulate organic carbon (C) and nitrogen (N), which has implications for carbon export efficiency given the ballasted nature of the silica-based diatom cell wall. Understanding the molecular and physiological drivers of this altered cellular stoichiometry would foster a predictive understanding of how low Fe affects diatom carbon export. In an artificial upwelling experiment, water from 96 m depth was incubated shipboard and left untreated or amended with dissolved Fe or the Fe-binding siderophore desferrioxamine-B (+DFB) to induce Fe-limitation. After 120 h, diatoms dominated the communities in all treatments and displayed hallmark signatures of Fe-limitation in the +DFB treatment, including elevated particulate Si:C and Si:N ratios. Single-cell, taxon-resolved measurements revealed no increase in bSi content during Fe-limitation despite higher transcript abundance of silicon transporters and silicanin-1. Based on these findings we posit that the observed increase in bSi relative to C and N was primarily due to reductions in C fixation and N assimilation, driven by lower transcript expression of key Fe-dependent genes.

     
    more » « less
  3. Summary

    A mix of adaptive strategies enable diatoms to sustain rapid growth in dynamic ocean regions, making diatoms one of the most productive primary producers in the world. We illustrate one such strategy off coastal California that facilitates continued, high, cell division rates despite silicic acid stress. Using a fluorescent dye to measure single‐cell diatom silica production rates, silicification (silica per unit area) and growth rates we show diatoms decrease silicification and maintain growth rate when silicon concentration limits silica production rates. While this physiological response to silicon stress was similar across taxa,in situsilicic acid concentration limited silica production rates by varying degrees for taxa within the same community. Despite this variability among taxa, silicon stress did not alter the contribution of specific taxa to total community silica production or to community composition. Maintenance of division rate at the expense of frustule thickness decreases cell density which could affect regional biogeochemical cycles. The reduction in frustule silicification also creates an ecological tradeoff: thinner frustules increase susceptibility to predation but reducing Si quotas maximizes cell abundance for a given pulse of silicic acid, thereby favouring a larger eventual population size which facilitates diatom persistence in habitats with pulsed resource supplies.

     
    more » « less
  4. Diatoms are highly productive single‐celled algae that form an intricately patterned silica cell wall after every cell division. They take up and utilize silicic acid from seawater via silicon transporter (SIT) proteins. This study examined the evolution of theSITgene family to identify potential genetic adaptations that enable diatoms to thrive in the modern ocean. By searching for sequence homologs in available databases, the diversity of organisms found to encodeSITs increased substantially and included all major diatom lineages and other algal protists. A bacterial‐encoded gene with homology toSITsequences was also identified, suggesting that a lateral gene transfer event occurred between bacterial and protist lineages. In diatoms, theSITgenes diverged and diversified to produce five distinct clades. The most basalSITclades were widely distributed across diatom lineages, while the more derived clades were lineage‐specific, which together produced a distinct repertoire ofSITtypes among major diatom lineages. Differences in the predicted protein functional domains encoded amongSITclades suggest that the divergence of clades resulted in functional diversification amongSITs. Both laboratory cultures and natural communities changed transcription of eachSITclade in response to experimental or environmental growth conditions, with distinct transcriptional patterns observed among clades. Together, these data suggest that the diversification ofSITs within diatoms led to specialized adaptations among diatoms lineages, and perhaps their dominant ability to take up silicic acid from seawater in diverse environmental conditions.

     
    more » « less
  5. Brennan, Richard Gerald (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT <p>Microbial extracellular proteins and metabolites provide valuable information concerning how microbes adapt to changing environments. In cyanobacteria, dynamic acclimation strategies involve a variety of regulatory mechanisms, being ferric uptake regulator proteins as key players in this process. In the nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium<italic>Anabaena</italic>sp. strain PCC 7120, FurC (PerR) is a global regulator that modulates the peroxide response and several genes involved in photosynthesis and nitrogen metabolism. To investigate the possible role of FurC in shaping the extracellular environment of<italic>Anabaena</italic>, the analysis of the extracellular metabolites and proteins of a<italic>furC</italic>-overexpressing variant was compared to that of the wild-type strain. There were 96 differentially abundant proteins, 78 of which were found for the first time in the extracellular fraction of<italic>Anabaena</italic>. While these proteins belong to different functional categories, most of them are predicted to be secreted or have a peripheral location. Several stress-related proteins, including PrxA, flavodoxin, and the Dps homolog All1173, accumulated in the exoproteome of<italic>furC</italic>-overexpressing cells, while decreased levels of FurA and a subset of membrane proteins, including several export proteins and<italic>amiC</italic>gene products, responsible for nanopore formation, were detected. Direct repression by FurC of some of those genes, including<italic>amiC1</italic>and<italic>amiC2,</italic>could account for odd septal nanopore formation and impaired intercellular molecular transfer observed in the<italic>furC</italic>-overexpressing variant. Assessment of the exometabolome from both strains revealed the release of two peptidoglycan fragments in<italic>furC</italic>-overexpressing cells, namely 1,6-anhydro-N-acetyl-β-D-muramic acid (anhydroMurNAc) and its associated disaccharide (β-D-GlcNAc-(1-4)-anhydroMurNAc), suggesting alterations in peptidoglycan breakdown and recycling.</p><sec><title>IMPORTANCE

    Cyanobacteria are ubiquitous photosynthetic prokaryotes that can adapt to environmental stresses by modulating their extracellular contents. Measurements of the organization and composition of the extracellular milieu provide useful information about cyanobacterial adaptive processes, which can potentially lead to biomimetic approaches to stabilizing biological systems to adverse conditions.Anabaenasp. strain PCC 7120 is a multicellular, nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium whose intercellular molecular exchange is mediated by septal junctions that traverse the septal peptidoglycan through nanopores. FurC (PerR) is an essential transcriptional regulator inAnabaena, which modulates the response to several stresses. Here, we show thatfurC-overexpressing cells result in a modified exoproteome and the release of peptidoglycan fragments. Phenotypically, important alterations in nanopore formation and cell-to-cell communication were observed. Our results expand the roles of FurC to the modulation of cell-wall biogenesis and recycling, as well as in intercellular molecular transfer.

     
    more » « less