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  1. Tropical environments with unique abiotic and biotic factors—such as salt ponds, mangroves, and coral reefs—are often in close proximity. The heterogeneity of these environments is reflected in community shifts over short distances, resulting in high biodiversity. While phytoplankton assemblages physically associated with corals, particularly their symbionts, are well studied, less is known about phytoplankton diversity across tropical aquatic environments. We assess shifts in phytoplankton community composition along inshore to offshore gradients by sequencing and analyzing 16S rRNA gene amplicons using primers targeting the V1-V2 region that capture plastids from eukaryotic phytoplankton and cyanobacteria, as well as heterotrophic bacteria. Microbial alpha diversity computed from 16S V1-V2 amplicon sequence variant (ASV) data from 282 samples collected in and around Curaçao, in the Southern Caribbean Sea, varied more within the dynamic salt ponds, salterns, and mangroves, compared to the seemingly stable above-reef, off-reef, and open sea environments. Among eukaryotic phytoplankton, stramenopiles often exhibited the highest relative abundances in mangrove, above-reef, off-reef, and open sea environments, where cyanobacteria also showed high relative abundances. Within stramenopiles, diatom amplicons dominated in salt ponds and mangroves, while dictyochophytes and pelagophytes prevailed above reefs and offshore. Green algae and cryptophytes were also present, and the former exhibited transitions following the gradient from inland to offshore. Chlorophytes and prasinophyte Class IV dominated in salt ponds, while prasinophyte Class II, including Micromonas commoda and Ostreococcus Clade OII, had the highest relative abundances of green algae in mangroves, above-reef, off-reef, and the open sea. To improve Class II prasinophyte classification, we sequenced 18S rRNA gene amplicons from the V4 region in 41 samples which were used to interrelate plastid-based results with information on uncultured prasinophyte species from prior 18S rRNA gene-based studies. This highlighted the presence of newly described Ostreococcus bengalensis and two Micromonas candidate species. Network analyses identified co-occurrence patterns between individual phytoplankton groups, including cyanobacteria, and heterotrophic bacteria. Our study reveals multiple uncultured and novel lineages within green algae and dictyochophytes in tropical marine habitats. Collectively, the algal diversity patterns and potential co-occurrence relationships observed in connection to physicochemical and spatial influences help provide a baseline against which future change can be assessed. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 30, 2024
  2. Abstract. Eastern boundary upwelling systems (EBUS) contribute a disproportionatefraction of the global fish catch relative to their size and are especiallysusceptible to global environmental change. Here we present the evolution ofcommunities over 50 d in an in situ mesocosm 6 km offshore of Callao, Peru, andin the nearby unenclosed coastal Pacific Ocean. The communities weremonitored using multi-marker environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding and flowcytometry. DNA extracted from weekly water samples were subjected toamplicon sequencing for four genetic loci: (1) the V1–V2 region of the 16SrRNA gene for photosynthetic eukaryotes (via their chloroplasts) andbacteria; (2) the V9 region of the 18S rRNA gene for exploration ofeukaryotes but targeting phytoplankton; (3) cytochrome oxidase I (COI) forexploration of eukaryotic taxa but targeting invertebrates; and (4) the 12SrRNA gene, targeting vertebrates. The multi-marker approach showed adivergence of communities (from microbes to fish) between the mesocosm andthe unenclosed ocean. Together with the environmental information, thegenetic data furthered our mechanistic understanding of the processes thatare shaping EBUS communities in a changing ocean. The unenclosed oceanexperienced significant variability over the course of the 50 d experiment,with temporal shifts in community composition, but remained dominated byorganisms that are characteristic of high-nutrient upwelling conditions(e.g., diatoms, copepods, anchovies). A large directional change was found inthe mesocosm community. The mesocosm community that developed wascharacteristic of upwelling regions when upwelling relaxes and watersstratify (e.g., dinoflagellates, nanoflagellates). The selection ofdinoflagellates under the salinity-driven experimentally stratifiedconditions in the mesocosm, as well as the warm conditions brought about bythe coastal El Niño, may be an indication of how EBUS will respond underthe global environmental changes (i.e., increases in surface temperature andfreshwater input, leading to increased stratification) forecast by the IPCC. 
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  3. Johnson, Karyn N. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Coral reefs are possible sinks for microbes; however, the removal mechanisms at play are not well understood. Here, we characterize pelagic microbial groups at the CARMABI reef (Curaçao) and examine microbial consumption by three coral species: Madracis mirabilis , Porites astreoides , and Stephanocoenia intersepta . Flow cytometry analyses of water samples collected from a depth of 10 m identified 6 microbial groups: Prochlorococcus , three groups of Synechococcus , photosynthetic eukaryotes, and heterotrophic bacteria. Minimum growth rates (μ) for Prochlorococcus , all Synechococcus groups, and photosynthetic eukaryotes were 0.55, 0.29, and 0.45 μ day −1 , respectively, and suggest relatively high rates of productivity despite low nutrient conditions on the reef. During a series of 5-h incubations with reef corals performed just after sunset or prior to sunrise, reductions in the abundance of photosynthetic picoeukaryotes, Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus cells, were observed. Of the three Synechococcus groups, one decreased significantly during incubations with each coral and the other two only with M. mirabilis. Removal of carbon from the water column is based on coral consumption rates of phytoplankton and averaged between 138 ng h −1 and 387 ng h −1 , depending on the coral species. A lack of coral-dependent reduction in heterotrophic bacteria, differences in Synechococcus reductions, and diurnal variation in reductions of Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus , coinciding with peak cell division, point to selective feeding by corals. Our study indicates that bentho-pelagic coupling via selective grazing of microbial groups influences carbon flow and supports heterogeneity of microbial communities overlying coral reefs. IMPORTANCE We identify interactions between coral grazing behavior and the growth rates and cell abundances of pelagic microbial groups found surrounding a Caribbean reef. During incubation experiments with three reef corals, reductions in microbial cell abundance differed according to coral species and suggest specific coral or microbial mechanisms are at play. Peaks in removal rates of Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus cyanobacteria appear highest during postsunset incubations and coincide with microbial cell division. Grazing rates and effort vary across coral species and picoplankton groups, possibly influencing overall microbial composition and abundance over coral reefs. For reef corals, use of such a numerically abundant source of nutrition may be advantageous, especially under environmentally stressful conditions when symbioses with dinoflagellate algae break down. 
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  4. null (Ed.)
  5. null (Ed.)
    Photosynthesis in eukaryotes first arose through phagocytotic processes wherein an engulfed cyanobacterium was not digested, but instead became a permanent organelle. Other photosynthetic lineages then arose when eukaryotic cells engulfed other already photosynthetic eukaryotic cells. Some of the resulting lineages subsequently lost their ability for phagocytosis, while many others maintained the ability to do both processes. These mixotrophic taxa have more complicated ecological roles, in that they are both primary producers and consumers that can shift more towards producing the organic matter that forms the base of aquatic food chains, or towards respiring and releasing CO 2 . We still have much to learn about which taxa are predatory mixotrophs as well as about the physiological consequences of this lifestyle, in part, because much of the diversity of unicellular eukaryotes in aquatic ecosystems remains uncultured. Here, we discuss existing methods for studying predatory mixotrophs, their individual biases, and how single-cell approaches can enhance knowledge of these important taxa. The question remains what the gold standard should be for assigning a mixotrophic status to ill-characterized or uncultured taxa—a status that dictates how organisms are incorporated into carbon cycle models and how their ecosystem roles may shift in future lakes and oceans. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue ‘Single cell ecology’. 
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  6. Abstract

    The Bay of Bengal (BoB) is a 2,600,000 km2expanse in the Indian Ocean upon which many humans rely. However, the primary producers underpinning food chains here remain poorly characterized. We examined phytoplankton abundance and diversity along strong BoB latitudinal and vertical salinity gradients—which have low temperature variation (27–29°C) between the surface and subsurface chlorophyll maximum (SCM). In surface waters,Prochlorococcusaveraged 11.7 ± 4.4 × 104 cells ml−1, predominantly HLII, whereas LLII and ‘rare’ ecotypes, HLVI and LLVII, dominated in the SCM.Synechococcusaveraged 8.4 ± 2.3 × 104 cells ml−1in the surface, declined rapidly with depth, and population structure of dominant Clade II differed between surface and SCM; Clade X was notable at both depths. Across all sites,OstreococcusClade OII dominated SCM eukaryotes whereas communities differentiated strongly moving from Arabian Sea‐influenced high salinity (southerly; prasinophytes) to freshwater‐influenced low salinity (northerly; stramenopiles, specifically, diatoms, pelagophytes, and dictyochophytes, plus the prasinophyteMicromonas) surface waters. Eukaryotic phytoplankton peaked in the south (1.9 × 104 cells ml−1, surface) where a novelOstreococcuswas revealed, named hereOstreococcus bengalensis. We expose dominance of a single picoeukaryote and hitherto ‘rare’ picocyanobacteria at depth in this complex ecosystem where studies suggest picoplankton are replacing larger phytoplankton due to climate change.

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