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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 3, 2024
  2. Makhalanyane, Thulani P. (Ed.)

    The biology and ecology of marine microbial eukaryotes is known to be constrained by oceanic conditions. In contrast, how viruses that infect this important group of organisms respond to environmental change is less well known, despite viruses being recognized as key microbial community members.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 27, 2024
  3. Abstract

    Iron is a key micronutrient for ocean phytoplankton, and the availability of iron controls primary production and community composition in large regions of the ocean. Pennate diatoms, a phytoplankton group that responds to iron additions in low-iron areas, can have highly variable iron contents, and some groups such as Pseudo-nitzschia, are known to use ferritin to store iron for later use. We quantified and mapped the intracellular accumulation of iron by a natural population of Pseudo-nitzschia from the Fe-limited equatorial Pacific Ocean. A total of 48 h after iron addition, nearly half of the accumulated iron was localized in storage bodies adjacent to chloroplasts believed to represent ferritin. Over the subsequent 48 h, stored iron was distributed to the rest of the cell through subsequent growth and division, partially supporting the iron contents of the daughter cells. This study provides the first quantitative view into the cellular trafficking of iron in a globally relevant phytoplankton group and demonstrates the unique capabilities of synchrotron-based element imaging approaches.

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  4. Abstract

    Although iron and light are understood to regulate the Southern Ocean biological carbon pump, observations have also indicated a possible role for manganese. Low concentrations in Southern Ocean surface waters suggest manganese limitation is possible, but its spatial extent remains poorly constrained and direct manganese limitation of the marine carbon cycle has been neglected by ocean models. Here, using available observations, we develop a new global biogeochemical model and find that phytoplankton in over half of the Southern Ocean cannot attain maximal growth rates because of manganese deficiency. Manganese limitation is most extensive in austral spring and depends on phytoplankton traits related to the size of photosynthetic antennae and the inhibition of manganese uptake by high zinc concentrations in Antarctic waters. Importantly, manganese limitation expands under the increased iron supply of past glacial periods, reducing the response of the biological carbon pump. Overall, these model experiments describe a mosaic of controls on Southern Ocean productivity that emerge from the interplay of light, iron, manganese and zinc, shaping the evolution of Antarctic phytoplankton since the opening of the Drake Passage.

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  5. Abstract

    The trace metal iron (Fe) controls the diversity and activity of phytoplankton across the surface oceans, a paradigm established through decades of in situ and mesocosm experimental studies. Despite widespread Fe-limitation within high-nutrient, low chlorophyll (HNLC) waters, significant contributions of the cyanobacterium Synechococcus to the phytoplankton stock can be found. Correlations among differing strains of Synechococcus across different Fe-regimes have suggested the existence of Fe-adapted ecotypes. However, experimental evidence of high- versus low-Fe adapted strains of Synechococcus is lacking, and so we investigated the transcriptional responses of microbial communities inhabiting the HNLC, sub-Antarctic region of the Southern Ocean during the Spring of 2018. Analysis of metatranscriptomes generated from on-deck incubation experiments reflecting a gradient of Fe-availabilities reveal transcriptomic signatures indicative of co-occurring Synechococcus ecotypes adapted to differing Fe-regimes. Functional analyses comparing low-Fe and high-Fe conditions point to various Fe-acquisition mechanisms that may allow persistence of low-Fe adapted Synechococcus under Fe-limitation. Comparison of in situ surface conditions to the Fe-titrations indicate ecological relevance of these mechanisms as well as persistence of both putative ecotypes within this region. This Fe-titration approach, combined with transcriptomics, highlights the short-term responses of the in situ phytoplankton community to Fe-availability that are often overlooked by examining genomic content or bulk physiological responses alone. These findings expand our knowledge about how phytoplankton in HNLC Southern Ocean waters adapt and respond to changing Fe supply.

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  6. Abstract

    In the California Current Ecosystem, upwelled water low in dissolved iron (Fe) can limit phytoplankton growth, altering the elemental stoichiometry of the particulate matter and dissolved macronutrients. Iron-limited diatoms can increase biogenic silica (bSi) content >2-fold relative to that of particulate organic carbon (C) and nitrogen (N), which has implications for carbon export efficiency given the ballasted nature of the silica-based diatom cell wall. Understanding the molecular and physiological drivers of this altered cellular stoichiometry would foster a predictive understanding of how low Fe affects diatom carbon export. In an artificial upwelling experiment, water from 96 m depth was incubated shipboard and left untreated or amended with dissolved Fe or the Fe-binding siderophore desferrioxamine-B (+DFB) to induce Fe-limitation. After 120 h, diatoms dominated the communities in all treatments and displayed hallmark signatures of Fe-limitation in the +DFB treatment, including elevated particulate Si:C and Si:N ratios. Single-cell, taxon-resolved measurements revealed no increase in bSi content during Fe-limitation despite higher transcript abundance of silicon transporters and silicanin-1. Based on these findings we posit that the observed increase in bSi relative to C and N was primarily due to reductions in C fixation and N assimilation, driven by lower transcript expression of key Fe-dependent genes.

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  7. Abstract

    We present a new approach for quantifying the bioavailability of dissolved iron (dFe) to oceanic phytoplankton. Bioavailability is defined using an uptake rate constant (kin‐app) computed by combining data on: (a) Fe content of individual in situ phytoplankton cells; (b) concurrently determined seawater dFe concentrations; and (c) growth rates estimated from the PISCES model. We examined 930 phytoplankton cells, collected between 2002 and 2016 from 45 surface stations during 11 research cruises. This approach is only valid for cells that have upregulated their high‐affinity Fe uptake system, so data were screened, yielding 560 single cellkin‐appvalues from 31 low‐Fe stations. We normalizedkin‐appto cell surface area (S.A.) to account for cell‐size differences.

    The resulting bioavailability proxy (kin‐app/S.A.) varies among cells, but all values are within bioavailability limits predicted from defined Fe complexes. In situ dFe bioavailability is higher than model Fe‐siderophore complexes and often approaches that of highly available inorganic Fe′. Station averagedkin‐app/S.A. are also variable but show no systematic changes across location, temperature, dFe, and phytoplankton taxa. Given the relative consistency ofkin‐app/S.A. among stations (ca. five‐fold variation), we computed a grand‐averaged dFe availability, which upon normalization to cell carbon (C) yieldskin‐app/C of 42,200 ± 11,000 L mol C−1 d−1. We utilizekin‐app/C to calculate dFe uptake rates and residence times in low Fe oceanic regions. Finally, we demonstrate the applicability ofkin‐app/C for constraining Fe uptake rates in earth system models, such as those predicting climate mediated changes in net primary production in the Fe‐limited Equatorial Pacific.

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