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  1. Uncovering which biogeochemical processes have a critical role controlling dissolved organic matter (DOM) compositional changes in complex estuarine environments remains a challenge. In this context, the aim of this study is to characterize the dominant patterns of variability modifying the DOM composition in an estuary off the Southeastern U.S. We collected water samples during three seasons (July and October 2014 and April 2015) at both high and low tides and conducted short- (1 day) and long-term (60 days) dark incubations. Samples were analyzed for bulk DOC concentration, and optical (CDOM) and molecular (FT-ICR MS) compositions and bacterial cells were collected for metatranscriptomics. Results show that the dominant pattern of variability in DOM composition occurs at seasonal scales, likely associated with the seasonality of river discharge. After seasonal variations, long-term biodegradation was found to be comparatively more important in the fall, while tidal variability was the second most important factor correlated to DOM composition in spring, when the freshwater content in the estuary was high. Over shorter time scales, however, the influence of microbial processing was small. Microbial data revealed a similar pattern, with variability in gene expression occurring primarily at the seasonal scale and tidal influence being of secondary importance.more »Our analyses suggest that future changes in the seasonal delivery of freshwater to this system have the potential to significantly impact DOM composition. Changes in residence time may also be important, helping control the relative contribution of tides and long-term biodegradation to DOM compositional changes in the estuary.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 8, 2022
  2. Abstract

    Phytoplankton-derived metabolites fuel a large fraction of heterotrophic bacterial production in the global ocean, yet methodological challenges have limited our understanding of the organic molecules transferred between these microbial groups. In an experimental bloom study consisting of three heterotrophic marine bacteria growing together with the diatomThalassiosira pseudonana, we concurrently measured diatom endometabolites (i.e., potential exometabolite supply) by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and bacterial gene expression (i.e., potential exometabolite uptake) by metatranscriptomic sequencing. Twenty-two diatom endometabolites were annotated, with nine increasing in internal concentration in the late stage of the bloom, eight decreasing, and five showing no variation through the bloom progression. Some metabolite changes could be linked to shifts in diatom gene expression, as well as to shifts in bacterial community composition and their expression of substrate uptake and catabolism genes. Yet an overall low match indicated that endometabolome concentration was not a good predictor of exometabolite availability, and that complex physiological and ecological interactions underlie metabolite exchange. Six diatom endometabolites accumulated to higher concentrations in the bacterial co-cultures compared to axenic cultures, suggesting a bacterial influence on rates of synthesis or release of glutamate, arginine, leucine, 2,3-dihydroxypropane-1-sulfonate, glucose, and glycerol-3-phosphate. Better understanding of phytoplankton metabolite production, release,more »and transfer to assembled bacterial communities is key to untangling this nearly invisible yet pivotal step in ocean carbon cycling.

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  3. Abstract Marine Group II Euryarchaeota ( Candidatus Poseidoniales), abundant but yet-uncultivated members of marine microbial communities, are thought to be (photo)heterotrophs that metabolize dissolved organic matter (DOM), such as lipids and peptides. However, little is known about their transcriptional activity. We mapped reads from a metatranscriptomic time series collected at Sapelo Island (GA, USA) to metagenome-assembled genomes to determine the diversity of transcriptionally active Ca . Poseidoniales. Summer metatranscriptomes had the highest abundance of Ca . Poseidoniales transcripts, mostly from the O1 and O3 genera within Ca . Thalassarchaeaceae (MGIIb). In contrast, transcripts from fall and winter samples were predominantly from Ca . Poseidoniaceae (MGIIa). Genes encoding proteorhodopsin, membrane-bound pyrophosphatase, peptidase/proteases, and part of the ß-oxidation pathway were highly transcribed across abundant genera. Highly transcribed genes specific to Ca . Thalassarchaeaceae included xanthine/uracil permease and receptors for amino acid transporters. Enrichment of Ca . Thalassarchaeaceae transcript reads related to protein/peptide, nucleic acid, and amino acid transport and metabolism, as well as transcript depletion during dark incubations, provided further evidence of heterotrophic metabolism. Quantitative PCR analysis of South Atlantic Bight samples indicated consistently abundant Ca . Poseidoniales in nearshore and inshore waters. Together, our data suggest that Ca . Thalassarchaeaceae aremore »important photoheterotrophs potentially linking DOM and nitrogen cycling in coastal waters.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  4. Abstract

    Organic carbon transfer between surface ocean photosynthetic and heterotrophic microbes is a central but poorly understood process in the global carbon cycle. In a model community in which diatom extracellular release of organic molecules sustained growth of a co-cultured bacterium, we determined quantitative changes in the diatom endometabolome and the bacterial uptake transcriptome over two diel cycles. Of the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) peaks in the diatom endometabolites, 38% had diel patterns with noon or mid-afternoon maxima; the remaining either increased (36%) or decreased (26%) through time. Of the genes in the bacterial uptake transcriptome, 94% had a diel pattern with a noon maximum; the remaining decreased over time (6%). Eight diatom endometabolites identified with high confidence were matched to the bacterial genes mediating their utilization. Modeling of these coupled inventories with only diffusion-based phytoplankton extracellular release could not reproduce all the patterns. Addition of active release mechanisms for physiological balance and bacterial recognition significantly improved model performance. Estimates of phytoplankton extracellular release range from only a few percent to nearly half of annual net primary production. Improved understanding of the factors that influence metabolite release and consumption by surface ocean microbes will better constrain this globally significant carbonmore »flux.

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  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  6. ABSTRACT Blooms of the toxin-producing cyanobacterium Microcystis are increasing globally, leading to the loss of ecosystem services, threats to human health, as well as the deaths of pets and husbandry animals. While nutrient availability is a well-known driver of algal biomass, the factors controlling “who” is present in fresh waters are more complicated. Microcystis possesses multiple strategies to adapt to temperature, light, changes in nutrient chemistry, herbivory, and parasitism that provide a selective advantage over its competitors. Moreover, its ability to alter ecosystem pH provides it a further advantage that helps exclude many of its planktonic competitors. While decades of nutrient monitoring have provided us with the tools to predict the accumulation of phytoplankton biomass, here, we point to factors on the horizon that may inform us why Microcystis is presently the dominant bloom former in freshwaters around the world.
  7. Abstract

    The communities of bacteria that assemble around marine microphytoplankton are predictably dominated by Rhodobacterales, Flavobacteriales, and families within the Gammaproteobacteria. Yet whether this consistent ecological pattern reflects the result of resource-based niche partitioning or resource competition requires better knowledge of the metabolites linking microbial autotrophs and heterotrophs in the surface ocean. We characterized molecules targeted for uptake by three heterotrophic bacteria individually co-cultured with a marine diatom using two strategies that vetted the exometabolite pool for biological relevance by means of bacterial activity assays: expression of diagnostic genes and net drawdown of exometabolites, the latter detected with mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance using novel sample preparation approaches. Of the more than 36 organic molecules with evidence of bacterial uptake, 53% contained nitrogen (including nucleosides and amino acids), 11% were organic sulfur compounds (including dihydroxypropanesulfonate and dimethysulfoniopropionate), and 28% were components of polysaccharides (including chrysolaminarin, chitin, and alginate). Overlap in phytoplankton-derived metabolite use by bacteria in the absence of competition was low, and only guanosine, proline, andN-acetyl-d-glucosamine were predicted to be used by all three. Exometabolite uptake pattern points to a key role for ecological resource partitioning in the assembly marine bacterial communities transforming recent photosynthate.