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  1. In many oceanic regions, anthropogenic warming will coincide with iron (Fe) limitation. Interactive effects between warming and Fe limitation on phytoplankton physiology and biochemical function are likely, as temperature and Fe availability affect many of the same essential cellular pathways. However, we lack a clear understanding of how globally significant phytoplankton such as the picocyanobacteriaSynechococcuswill respond to these co-occurring stressors, and what underlying molecular mechanisms will drive this response. Moreover, ecotype-specific adaptations can lead to nuanced differences in responses between strains. In this study,Synechococcusisolates YX04-1 (oceanic) and XM-24 (coastal) from the South China Sea were acclimated to Fe limitation at two temperatures, and their physiological and proteomic responses were compared. Both strains exhibited reduced growth due to warming and Fe limitation. However, coastal XM-24 maintained relatively higher growth rates in response to warming under replete Fe, while its growth was notably more compromised under Fe limitation at both temperatures compared with YX04-1. In response to concurrent heat and Fe stress, oceanic YX04-1 was better able to adjust its photosynthetic proteins and minimize the generation of reactive oxygen species while reducing proteome Fe demand. Its intricate proteomic response likely enabled oceanic YX04-1 to mitigate some of the negative impact of warming on its growth during Fe limitation. Our study highlights how ecologically-shaped adaptations inSynechococcusstrains even from proximate oceanic regions can lead to differing physiological and proteomic responses to these climate stressors.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 20, 2025
  2. The extent and ecological significance of intraspecific functional diversity within marine microbial populations is still poorly understood, and it remains unclear if such strain-level microdiversity will affect fitness and persistence in a rapidly changing ocean environment. In this study, we cultured 11 sympatric strains of the ubiquitous marine picocyanobacteriumSynechococcusisolated from a Narragansett Bay (RI) phytoplankton community thermal selection experiment. Thermal performance curves revealed selection at cool and warm temperatures had subdivided the initial population into thermotypes with pronounced differences in maximum growth temperatures. Curiously, the genomes of all 11 isolates were almost identical (average nucleotide identities of >99.99%, with >99% of the genome aligning) and no differences in gene content or single nucleotide variants were associated with either cool or warm temperature phenotypes. Despite a very high level of genomic similarity, sequenced epigenomes for two strains showed differences in methylation on genes associated with photosynthesis. These corresponded to measured differences in photophysiology, suggesting a potential pathway for future mechanistic research into thermal microdiversity. Our study demonstrates that present-day marine microbial populations can harbor cryptic but environmentally relevant thermotypes which may increase their resilience to future rising temperatures.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 21, 2024
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  4. Abstract

    The colony-forming cyanobacteria Trichodesmium spp. are considered one of the most important nitrogen-fixing genera in the warm, low nutrient ocean. Despite this central biogeochemical role, many questions about their evolution, physiology, and trophic interactions remain unanswered. To address these questions, we describe Trichodesmium pangenomic potential via significantly improved genomic assemblies from two isolates and 15 new >50% complete Trichodesmium metagenome-assembled genomes from hand-picked, Trichodesmium colonies spanning the Atlantic Ocean. Phylogenomics identified ~four N2 fixing clades of Trichodesmium across the transect, with T. thiebautii dominating the colony-specific reads. Pangenomic analyses showed that all T. thiebautii MAGs are enriched in COG defense mechanisms and encode a vertically inherited Type III-B Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats and associated protein-based immunity system (CRISPR-Cas). Surprisingly, this CRISPR-Cas system was absent in all T. erythraeum genomes, vertically inherited by T. thiebautii, and correlated with increased signatures of horizontal gene transfer. Additionally, the system was expressed in metaproteomic and transcriptomic datasets and CRISPR spacer sequences with 100% identical hits to field-assembled, putative phage genome fragments were identified. While the currently CO2-limited T. erythraeum is expected to be a ‘winner’ of anthropogenic climate change, their genomic dearth of known phage resistance mechanisms, compared to T. thiebautii, could put this outcome in question. Thus, the clear demarcation of T. thiebautii maintaining CRISPR-Cas systems, while T. erythraeum does not, identifies Trichodesmium as an ecologically important CRISPR-Cas model system, and highlights the need for more research on phage-Trichodesmium interactions.

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  5. York, A (Ed.)