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  1. Abstract

    Iron is an essential nutrient for all microorganisms of the marine environment. Iron limitation of primary production has been well documented across a significant portion of the global surface ocean, but much less is known regarding the potential for iron limitation of the marine heterotrophic microbial community. In this work, we characterize the transcriptomic response of the heterotrophic bacterial community to iron additions in the California Current System, an eastern boundary upwelling system, to detect in situ iron stress of heterotrophic bacteria. Changes in gene expression in response to iron availability by heterotrophic bacteria were detected under conditions of high productivity when carbon limitation was relieved but when iron availability remained low. The ratio of particulate organic carbon to dissolved iron emerged as a biogeochemical proxy for iron limitation of heterotrophic bacteria in this system. Iron stress was characterized by high expression levels of iron transport pathways and decreased expression of iron-containing enzymes involved in carbon metabolism, where a majority of the heterotrophic bacterial iron requirement resides. Expression of iron stress biomarkers, as identified in the iron-addition experiments, was also detected insitu. These results suggest iron availability will impact the processing of organic matter by heterotrophic bacteria with potential consequences for the marine biological carbon pump.

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  2. 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 copiotroph Alteromonas macleodii ATCC 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 be directly influenced by microbial activities.

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