skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Dick, Gregory J."

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  2. A mechanistic, molecular-level model of a toxin-producing cyanobacterium explains ecology and informs management.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 27, 2023
  3. Rudi, Knut (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (cyanoHABs) degrade freshwater ecosystems globally. Microcystis aeruginosa often dominates cyanoHABs and produces microcystin (MC), a class of hepatotoxins that poses threats to human and animal health. Microcystin toxicity is influenced by distinct structural elements across a diversity of related molecules encoded by variant mcy operons. However, the composition and distribution of mcy operon variants in natural blooms remain poorly understood. Here, we characterized the variant composition of mcy genes in western Lake Erie Microcystis blooms from 2014 and 2018. Sampling was conducted across several spatial and temporal scales, including different bloom phases within 2014, extensive spatial coverage on the same day (2018), and frequent, autonomous sampling over a 2-week period (2018). Mapping of metagenomic and metatranscriptomic sequences to reference sequences revealed three Microcystis mcy genotypes: complete (all genes present [ mcyA–J ]), partial (truncated mcyA , complete mcyBC , and missing mcyD–J ), and absent (no mcy genes). We also detected two different variants of mcyB that may influence the production of microcystin congeners. The relative abundance of these genotypes was correlated with pH and nitrate concentrations. Metatranscriptomic analysis revealed that partial operons were, at times, the most abundant genotype and expressed in situ ,more »suggesting the potential biosynthesis of truncated products. Quantification of genetic divergence between genotypes suggests that the observed strains are the result of preexisting heterogeneity rather than de novo mutation during the sampling period. Overall, our results show that natural Microcystis populations contain several cooccurring mcy genotypes that dynamically shift in abundance spatiotemporally via strain succession and likely influence the observed diversity of the produced congeners. IMPORTANCE Cyanobacteria are responsible for producing microcystins (MCs), a class of potent and structurally diverse toxins, in freshwater systems around the world. While microcystins have been studied for over 50 years, the diversity of their chemical forms and how this variation is encoded at the genetic level remain poorly understood, especially within natural populations of cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (cyanoHABs). Here, we leverage community DNA and RNA sequences to track shifts in mcy genes responsible for producing microcystin, uncovering the relative abundance, expression, and variation of these genes. We studied this phenomenon in western Lake Erie, which suffers annually from cyanoHAB events, with impacts on drinking water, recreation, tourism, and commercial fishing.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 10, 2023
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  5. Bernstein, Hans C. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Cyanobacterial mats profoundly influenced Earth’s biological and geochemical evolution and still play important ecological roles in the modern world. However, the biogeochemical functioning of cyanobacterial mats under persistent low-O 2 conditions, which dominated their evolutionary history, is not well understood. To investigate how different metabolic and biogeochemical functions are partitioned among community members, we conducted metagenomics and metatranscriptomics on cyanobacterial mats in the low-O 2 , sulfidic Middle Island sinkhole (MIS) in Lake Huron. Metagenomic assembly and binning yielded 144 draft metagenome assembled genomes, including 61 of medium quality or better, and the dominant cyanobacteria and numerous Proteobacteria involved in sulfur cycling. Strains of a Phormidium autumnale -like cyanobacterium dominated the metagenome and metatranscriptome. Transcripts for the photosynthetic reaction core genes psaA and psbA were abundant in both day and night. Multiple types of psbA genes were expressed from each cyanobacterium, and the dominant psbA transcripts were from an atypical microaerobic type of D1 protein from Phormidium . Further, cyanobacterial transcripts for photosystem I genes were more abundant than those for photosystem II, and two types of Phormidium sulfide quinone reductase were recovered, consistent with anoxygenic photosynthesis via photosystem I in the presence of sulfide. Transcripts indicate active sulfurmore »oxidation and reduction within the cyanobacterial mat, predominately by Gammaproteobacteria and Deltaproteobacteria , respectively. Overall, these genomic and transcriptomic results link specific microbial groups to metabolic processes that underpin primary production and biogeochemical cycling in a low-O 2 cyanobacterial mat and suggest mechanisms for tightly coupled cycling of oxygen and sulfur compounds in the mat ecosystem. IMPORTANCE Cyanobacterial mats are dense communities of microorganisms that contain photosynthetic cyanobacteria along with a host of other bacterial species that play important yet still poorly understood roles in this ecosystem. Although such cyanobacterial mats were critical agents of Earth’s biological and chemical evolution through geological time, little is known about how they function under the low-oxygen conditions that characterized most of their natural history. Here, we performed sequencing of the DNA and RNA of modern cyanobacterial mat communities under low-oxygen and sulfur-rich conditions from the Middle Island sinkhole in Lake Huron. The results reveal the organisms and metabolic pathways that are responsible for both oxygen-producing and non-oxygen-producing photosynthesis as well as interconversions of sulfur that likely shape how much O 2 is produced in such ecosystems. These findings indicate tight metabolic reactions between community members that help to explain the limited the amount of O 2 produced in cyanobacterial mat ecosystems.« less
  6. null (Ed.)
    Sulfide inhibits oxygenic photosynthesis by blocking electron transfer between H2O and the oxygen-evolving complex in the D1 protein of Photosystem II. The ability of cyanobacteria to counter this effect has implications for understanding the productivity of benthic microbial mats in sulfidic environments throughout Earth history. In Lake Fryxell, Antarctica, the benthic, filamentous cyanobacterium Phormidium pseudopriestleyi creates a 1–2 mm thick layer of 50 µmol L−1 O2 in otherwise sulfidic water, demonstrating that it sustains oxygenic photosynthesis in the presence of sulfide. A metagenome-assembled genome of P. pseudopriestleyi indicates a genetic capacity for oxygenic photosynthesis, including multiple copies of psbA (encoding the D1 protein of Photosystem II), and anoxygenic photosynthesis with a copy of sqr (encoding the sulfide quinone reductase protein that oxidizes sulfide). The genomic content of P. pseudopriestleyi is consistent with sulfide tolerance mechanisms including increasing psbA expression or directly oxidizing sulfide with sulfide quinone reductase. However, the ability of the organism to reduce Photosystem I via sulfide quinone reductase while Photosystem II is sulfide-inhibited, thereby performing anoxygenic photosynthesis in the presence of sulfide, has yet to be demonstrated.