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  1. Abstract Scarce dissolved surface ocean concentrations of the essential algal micronutrient zinc suggest that Zn may influence the growth of phytoplankton such as diatoms, which are major contributors to marine primary productivity. However, the specific mechanisms by which diatoms acclimate to Zn deficiency are poorly understood. Using global proteomic analysis, we identified two proteins (ZCRP-A/B, Zn/Co Responsive Protein A/B) among four diatom species that became abundant under Zn/Co limitation. Characterization using reverse genetic techniques and homology data suggests putative Zn/Co chaperone and membrane-bound transport complex component roles for ZCRP-A (a COG0523 domain protein) and ZCRP-B, respectively. Metaproteomic detection of ZCRPsmore »along a Pacific Ocean transect revealed increased abundances at the surface (<200 m) where dZn and dCo were scarcest, implying Zn nutritional stress in marine algae is more prevalent than previously recognized. These results demonstrate multiple adaptive responses to Zn scarcity in marine diatoms that are deployed in low Zn regions of the Pacific Ocean.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  2. Primary productivity in the nutrient-poor subtropical ocean gyres depends on new nitrogen inputs from nitrogen fixers that convert inert dinitrogen gas into bioavailable forms. Temperature and iron (Fe) availability constrain marine nitrogen fixation, and both are changing due to anthropogenic ocean warming. We examined the physiological responses of the globally important marine nitrogen fixer, Crocosphaera watsonii across its full thermal range as a function of iron availability. At the lower end of its thermal range, from 22 to 27°C, Crocosphaera growth, nitrogen fixation, and Nitrogen-specific Iron Use Efficiencies (N-IUEs, mol N fixed hour –1 mol Fe –1 ) increased withmore »temperature. At an optimal growth temperature of 27°C, N-IUEs were 66% higher under iron-limited conditions than iron-replete conditions, indicating that low-iron availability increases metabolic efficiency. However, Crocosphaera growth and function decrease from 27 to 32°C, temperatures that are predicted for an increasing fraction of tropical oceans in the future. Altogether, this suggests that Crocosphaera are well adapted to iron-limited, warm waters, within prescribed limits. A model incorporating these results under the IPCC RCP 8.5 warming scenario predicts that Crocosphaera N-IUEs could increase by a net 47% by 2100, particularly in higher-latitude waters. These results contrast with published responses of another dominant nitrogen fixer ( Trichodesmium ), with predicted N-IUEs that increase most in low-latitude, tropical waters. These models project that differing responses of Crocosphaera and Trichodesmium N-IUEs to future warming of iron-limited oceans could enhance their current contributions to global marine nitrogen fixation with rates increasing by ∼91 and ∼22%, respectively, thereby shifting their relative importance to marine new production and also intensifying their regional divergence. Thus, interactive temperature and iron effects may profoundly transform existing paradigms of nitrogen biogeochemistry and primary productivity in open ocean regimes.« less
  3. Abstract

    Throughout the open ocean, a minimum in dissolved iron concentration (dFe) overlaps with the deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM), which marks the lower limit of the euphotic zone. Maximizing light capture in these dim waters is expected to require upregulation of Fe-bearing photosystems, further depleting dFe and possibly leading to co-limitation by both iron and light. However, this effect has not been quantified for important phytoplankton groups likeProchlorococcus, which contributes most of the productivity in the oligotrophic DCM. Here, we present culture experiments withProchlorococcusstrain MIT1214, a member of the Low Light 1 ecotype isolated from the DCM in the Northmore »Pacific subtropical gyre. Under a matrix of iron and irradiance matching those found at the DCM, the ratio of Fe to carbon inProchlorococcusMIT1214 cells ranged from 10–40 × 10−6 mol Fe:mol C and increased with light intensity and growth rate. These results challenge theoretical models predicting highest Fe:C at lowest light intensity, and are best explained by a large photosynthetic Fe demand that is not downregulated at higher light. To sustain primary production in the DCM with the rigid Fe requirements of low-light-adaptedProchlorococcus, dFe must be recycled rapidly and at high efficiency.

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  4. Marine microeukaryotes play a fundamental role in biogeochemical cycling through the transfer of energy to higher trophic levels and vertical carbon transport. Despite their global importance, microeukaryote physiology, nutrient metabolism and contributions to carbon cycling across offshore ecosystems are poorly characterized. Here, we observed the prevalence of dinoflagellates along a 4,600-km meridional transect extending across the central Pacific Ocean, where oligotrophic gyres meet equatorial upwelling waters rich in macronutrients yet low in dissolved iron. A combined multi-omics and geochemical analysis provided a window into dinoflagellate metabolism across the transect, indicating a continuous taxonomic dinoflagellate community that shifted its functional transcriptomemore »and proteome as it extended from the euphotic to the mesopelagic zone. In euphotic waters, multi-omics data suggested that a combination of trophic modes were utilized, while mesopelagic metabolism was marked by cytoskeletal investments and nutrient recycling. Rearrangement in nutrient metabolism was evident in response to variable nitrogen and iron regimes across the gradient, with no associated change in community assemblage. Total dinoflagellate proteins scaled with particulate carbon export, with both elevated in equatorial waters, suggesting a link between dinoflagellate abundance and total carbon flux. Dinoflagellates employ numerous metabolic strategies that enable broad occupation of central Pacific ecosystems and play a dual role in carbon transformation through both photosynthetic fixation in the euphotic zone and remineralization in the mesopelagic zone.« less
  5. Despite very low concentrations of cobalt in marine waters, cyanobacteria in the genus Prochlorococcus retain the genetic machinery for the synthesis and use of cobalt-bearing cofactors (cobalamins) in their genomes. We explore cobalt metabolism in a Prochlorococcus isolate from the equatorial Pacific Ocean (strain MIT9215) through a series of growth experiments under iron- and cobalt-limiting conditions. Metal uptake rates, quantitative proteomic measurements of cobalamin-dependent enzymes, and theoretical calculations all indicate that Prochlorococcus MIT9215 can sustain growth with less than 50 cobalt atoms per cell, ∼100-fold lower than minimum iron requirements for these cells (∼5,100 atoms per cell). Quantitative descriptions ofmore »Prochlorococcus cobalt limitation are used to interpret the cobalt distribution in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, where surface concentrations are among the lowest measured globally but Prochlorococcus biomass is high. A low minimum cobalt quota ensures that other nutrients, notably iron, will be exhausted before cobalt can be fully depleted, helping to explain the persistence of cobalt-dependent metabolism in marine cyanobacteria.« less
  6. Abstract. Cobalt is the scarcest of metallic micronutrients and displays a complex biogeochemical cycle. This study examines the distribution, chemical speciation, and biogeochemistry of dissolved cobalt during the US North Atlantic GEOTRACES transect expeditions (GA03/3_e), which took place in the fall of 2010 and 2011. Two major subsurface sources of cobalt to the North Atlantic were identified. The more prominent of the two was a large plume of cobalt emanating from the African coast off the eastern tropical North Atlantic coincident with the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) likely due to reductive dissolution, biouptake and remineralization, and aeolian dust deposition. Themore »occurrence of this plume in an OMZ with oxygen above suboxic levels implies a high threshold for persistence of dissolved cobalt plumes. The other major subsurface source came from Upper Labrador Seawater, which may carry high cobalt concentrations due to the interaction of this water mass with resuspended sediment at the western margin or from transport further upstream. Minor sources of cobalt came from dust, coastal surface waters and hydrothermal systems along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The full depth section of cobalt chemical speciation revealed near-complete complexation in surface waters, even within regions of high dust deposition. However, labile cobalt observed below the euphotic zone demonstrated that strong cobalt-binding ligands were not present in excess of the total cobalt concentration there, implying that mesopelagic labile cobalt was sourced from the remineralization of sinking organic matter. In the upper water column, correlations were observed between total cobalt and phosphate, and between labile cobalt and phosphate, demonstrating a strong biological influence on cobalt cycling. Along the western margin off the North American coast, this correlation with phosphate was no longer observed and instead a relationship between cobalt and salinity was observed, reflecting the importance of coastal input processes on cobalt distributions. In deep waters, both total and labile cobalt concentrations were lower than in intermediate depth waters, demonstrating that scavenging may remove labile cobalt from the water column. Total and labile cobalt distributions were also compared to a previously published South Atlantic GEOTRACES-compliant zonal transect (CoFeMUG, GAc01) to discern regional biogeochemical differences. Together, these Atlantic sectional studies highlight the dynamic ecological stoichiometry of total and labile cobalt. As increasing anthropogenic use and subsequent release of cobalt poses the potential to overpower natural cobalt signals in the oceans, it is more important than ever to establish a baseline understanding of cobalt distributions in the ocean.

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