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  1. Abstract

    The keystone marine nitrogen fixerTrichodesmiumthrives in high-dust environments. While laboratory investigations have observed thatTrichodesmiumcolonies can access the essential nutrient iron from dust particles, less clear are the biochemical strategies underlying particle–colony interactions in nature. Here we demonstrate thatTrichodesmiumcolonies engage with mineral particles in the wild with distinct molecular responses. We encountered particle-ladenTrichodesmiumcolonies at a sampling location in the Southern Caribbean Sea; microscopy and synchrotron-based imaging then demonstrated heterogeneous associations with iron oxide and iron-silicate minerals. Metaproteomic analysis of individual colonies by a new low-biomass approach revealed responses in biogeochemically relevant proteins including photosynthesis proteins and metalloproteins containing iron, nickel, copper, and zinc. The iron-storage protein ferritin was particularly enriched implying accumulation of mineral-derived iron, and multiple iron acquisition pathways including Fe(II), Fe(III), and Fe-siderophore transporters were engaged. While the particles provided key trace metals such as iron and nickel, there was also evidence thatTrichodesmiumwas altering its strategy to confront increased superoxide production and metal exposure. Chemotaxis regulators also responded to mineral presence suggesting involvement in particle entrainment. These molecular responses are fundamental toTrichodesmium’secological success and global biogeochemical impact, and may contribute to the leaching of particulate trace metals with implications for global iron and carbon cycling.

  2. The balance between sources and sinks of molecular oxygen in the oceans has greatly impacted the composition of Earth’s atmosphere since the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis, thereby exerting key influence on Earth’s climate and the redox state of (sub)surface Earth. The canonical source and sink terms of the marine oxygen budget include photosynthesis, respiration, photorespiration, the Mehler reaction, and other smaller terms. However, recent advances in understanding cryptic oxygen cycling, namely the ubiquitous one-electron reduction of O 2 to superoxide by microorganisms outside the cell, remains unexplored as a potential player in global oxygen dynamics. Here we show that dark extracellular superoxide production by marine microbes represents a previously unconsidered global oxygen flux and sink comparable in magnitude to other key terms. We estimate that extracellular superoxide production represents a gross oxygen sink comprising about a third of marine gross oxygen production, and a net oxygen sink amounting to 15 to 50% of that. We further demonstrate that this total marine dark extracellular superoxide flux is consistent with concentrations of superoxide in marine environments. These findings underscore prolific marine sources of reactive oxygen species and a complex and dynamic oxygen cycle in which oxygen consumption and corresponding carbon oxidation aremore »not necessarily confined to cell membranes or exclusively related to respiration. This revised model of the marine oxygen cycle will ultimately allow for greater reconciliation among estimates of primary production and respiration and a greater mechanistic understanding of redox cycling in the ocean.« less