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  1. Abstract

    It is now widely accepted that siderophores play a role in marine iron biogeochemical cycling. However, the mechanisms by which siderophores affect the availability of iron from specific sources and the resulting significance of these processes on iron biogeochemical cycling as a whole have remained largely untested. In this study, we develop a model system for testing the effects of siderophore production on iron bioavailability using the marine copiotrophAlteromonas macleodiiATCC 27126. Through the generation of the knockout cell line ΔasbB::kmr, which lacks siderophore biosynthetic capabilities, we demonstrate that the production of the siderophore petrobactin enables the acquisition of iron from mineral sources and weaker iron-ligand complexes. Notably, the utilization of lithogenic iron, such as that from atmospheric dust, indicates a significant role for siderophores in the incorporation of new iron into marine systems. We have also detected petrobactin, a photoreactive siderophore, directly from seawater in the mid-latitudes of the North Pacific and have identified the biosynthetic pathway for petrobactin in bacterial metagenome-assembled genomes widely distributed across the global ocean. Together, these results improve our mechanistic understanding of the role of siderophore production in iron biogeochemical cycling in the marine environment wherein iron speciation, bioavailability, and residence time can bemore »directly influenced by microbial activities.

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  2. Iron uptake by diatoms is a biochemical process with global biogeochemical implications. In large regions of the surface ocean diatoms are both responsible for the majority of primary production and frequently experiencing iron limitation of growth. The strategies used by these phytoplankton to extract iron from seawater constrain carbon flux into higher trophic levels and sequestration into sediments. In this study we use reverse genetic techniques to target putative iron-acquisition genes in the model pennate diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum . We describe components of a reduction-dependent siderophore acquisition pathway that relies on a bacterial-derived receptor protein and provides a viable alternative to inorganic iron uptake under certain conditions. This form of iron uptake entails a close association between diatoms and siderophore-producing organisms during low-iron conditions. Homologs of these proteins are found distributed across diatom lineages, suggesting the significance of siderophore utilization by diatoms in the marine environment. Evaluation of specific proteins enables us to confirm independent iron-acquisition pathways in diatoms and characterize their preferred substrates. These findings refine our mechanistic understanding of the multiple iron-uptake systems used by diatoms and help us better predict the influence of iron speciation on taxa-specific iron bioavailability.
  3. Subsurface chlorophyll maximum layers (SCMLs) are nearly ubiquitous in stratified water columns and exist at horizontal scales ranging from the submesoscale to the extent of oligotrophic gyres. These layers of heightened chlorophyll and/or phytoplankton concentrations are generally thought to be a consequence of a balance between light energy from above and a limiting nutrient flux from below, typically nitrate (NO3). Here we present multiple lines of evidence demonstrating that iron (Fe) limits or with light colimits phytoplankton communities in SCMLs along a primary productivity gradient from coastal to oligotrophic offshore waters in the southern California Current ecosystem. SCML phytoplankton responded markedly to added Fe or Fe/light in experimental incubations and transcripts of diatom and picoeukaryote Fe stress genes were strikingly abundant in SCML metatranscriptomes. Using a biogeochemical proxy with data from a 40-y time series, we find that diatoms growing in California Current SCMLs are persistently Fe deficient during the spring and summer growing season. We also find that the spatial extent of Fe deficiency within California Current SCMLs has significantly increased over the last 25 y in line with a regional climate index. Finally, we show that diatom Fe deficiency may be common in the subsurface of major upwellingmore »zones worldwide. Our results have important implications for our understanding of the biogeochemical consequences of marine SCML formation and maintenance.

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