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  1. Abstract Strong purifying selection is considered a major evolutionary force behind small microbial genomes in the resource-poor photic ocean. However, very little is currently known about how the size of prokaryotic genomes evolves in the global ocean and whether patterns reflect shifts in resource availability in the epipelagic and relatively stable deep-sea environmental conditions. Using 364 marine microbial metagenomes, we investigate how the average genome size of uncultured planktonic prokaryotes varies across the tropical and polar oceans to the hadal realm. We find that genome size is highest in the perennially cold polar ocean, reflecting elongation of coding genes and gene dosage effects due to duplications in the interior ocean microbiome. Moreover, the rate of change in genome size due to temperature is 16-fold higher than with depth up to 200 m. Our results demonstrate how environmental factors can influence marine microbial genome size selection and ecological strategies of the microbiome. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Whiteley, Marvin (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Climate change is the most serious challenge facing humanity. Microbes produce and consume three major greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide—and some microbes cause human, animal, and plant diseases that can be exacerbated by climate change. Hence, microbial research is needed to help ameliorate the warming trajectory and cascading effects resulting from heat, drought, and severe storms. We present a brief summary of what is known about microbial responses to climate change in three major ecosystems: terrestrial, ocean, and urban. We also offer suggestions for new research directions to reduce microbial greenhouse gases and mitigate the pathogenic impacts of microbes. These include performing more controlled studies on the climate impact on microbial processes, system interdependencies, and responses to human interventions, using microbes and their carbon and nitrogen transformations for useful stable products, improving microbial process data for climate models, and taking the One Health approach to study microbes and climate change. 
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  6. Abstract

    Persistent nitrogen depletion in sunlit open ocean waters provides a favorable ecological niche for nitrogen-fixing (diazotrophic) cyanobacteria, some of which associate symbiotically with eukaryotic algae. All known marine examples of these symbioses have involved either centric diatom or haptophyte hosts. We report here the discovery and characterization of two distinct marine pennate diatom-diazotroph symbioses, which until now had only been observed in freshwater environments. Rhopalodiaceae diatomsEpithemia pelagicasp. nov. andEpithemia catenatasp. nov. were isolated repeatedly from the subtropical North Pacific Ocean, and analysis of sequence libraries reveals a global distribution. These symbioses likely escaped attention because the endosymbionts lack fluorescent photopigments, havenifHgene sequences similar to those of free-living unicellular cyanobacteria, and are lost in nitrogen-replete medium. Marine Rhopalodiaceae-diazotroph symbioses are a previously overlooked but widespread source of bioavailable nitrogen in marine habitats and provide new, easily cultured model organisms for the study of organelle evolution.

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  7. null (Ed.)
    In the open ocean, elevated carbon flux (ECF) events increase the delivery of particulate carbon from surface waters to the seafloor by severalfold compared to other times of year. Since microbes play central roles in primary production and sinking particle formation, they contribute greatly to carbon export to the deep sea. Few studies, however, have quantitatively linked ECF events with the specific microbial assemblages that drive them. Here, we identify key microbial taxa and functional traits on deep-sea sinking particles that correlate positively with ECF events. Microbes enriched on sinking particles in summer ECF events included symbiotic and free-living diazotrophic cyanobacteria, rhizosolenid diatoms, phototrophic and heterotrophic protists, and photoheterotrophic and copiotrophic bacteria. Particle-attached bacteria reaching the abyss during summer ECF events encoded metabolic pathways reflecting their surface water origins, including oxygenic and aerobic anoxygenic photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation, and proteorhodopsin-based photoheterotrophy. The abundances of some deep-sea bacteria also correlated positively with summer ECF events, suggesting rapid bathypelagic responses to elevated organic matter inputs. Biota enriched on sinking particles during a spring ECF event were distinct from those found in summer, and included rhizaria, copepods, fungi, and different bacterial taxa. At other times over our 3-y study, mid- and deep-water particle colonization, predation, degradation, and repackaging (by deep-sea bacteria, protists, and animals) appeared to shape the biotic composition of particles reaching the abyss. Our analyses reveal key microbial players and biological processes involved in particle formation, rapid export, and consumption, that may influence the ocean’s biological pump and help sustain deep-sea ecosystems. 
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