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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. Rappe, Michael S. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT For the abundant marine Alphaproteobacterium Pelagibacter (SAR11), and other bacteria, phages are powerful forces of mortality. However, little is known about the most abundant Pelagiphages in nature, such as the widespread HTVC023P-type, which is currently represented by two cultured phages. Using viral metagenomic data sets and fluorescence-activated cell sorting, we recovered 80 complete, undescribed Podoviridae genomes that form 10 phylogenomically distinct clades (herein, named Clades I to X) related to the HTVC023P-type. These expanded the HTVC023P-type pan-genome by 15-fold and revealed 41 previously unknown auxiliary metabolic genes (AMGs) in this viral lineage. Numerous instances of partner-AMGs (colocated and involved in related functions) were observed, including partners in nucleotide metabolism, DNA hypermodification, and Curli biogenesis. The Type VIII secretion system (T8SS) responsible for Curli biogenesis was identified in nine genomes and expanded the repertoire of T8SS proteins reported thus far in viruses. Additionally, the identified T8SS gene cluster contained an iron-dependent regulator (FecR), as well as a histidine kinase and adenylate cyclase that can be implicated in T8SS function but are not within T8SS operons in bacteria. While T8SS are lacking in known Pelagibacter , they contribute to aggregation and biofilm formation in other bacteria. Phylogenetic reconstructions of partner-AMGs indicate derivation from cellular lineages with a more recent transfer between viral families. For example, homologs of all T8SS genes are present in syntenic regions of distant Myoviridae Pelagiphages, and they appear to have alphaproteobacterial origins with a later transfer between viral families. The results point to an unprecedented multipartner-AMG transfer between marine Myoviridae and Podoviridae. Together with the expansion of known metabolic functions, our studies provide new prospects for understanding the ecology and evolution of marine phages and their hosts. IMPORTANCE One of the most abundant and diverse marine bacterial groups is Pelagibacter . Phages have roles in shaping Pelagibacter ecology; however, several Pelagiphage lineages are represented by only a few genomes. This paucity of data from even the most widespread lineages has imposed limits on the understanding of the diversity of Pelagiphages and their impacts on hosts. Here, we report 80 complete genomes, assembled directly from environmental data, which are from undescribed Pelagiphages and render new insights into the manipulation of host metabolism during infection. Notably, the viruses have functionally related partner genes that appear to be transferred between distant viruses, including a suite that encode a secretion system which both brings a new functional capability to the host and is abundant in phages across the ocean. Together, these functions have important implications for phage evolution and for how Pelagiphage infection influences host biology in manners extending beyond canonical viral lysis and mortality. 
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  3. The colonization of land by plants generated opportunities for the rise of new heterotrophic life forms, including humankind. A unique event underpinned this massive change to earth ecosystems—the advent of eukaryotic green algae. Today, an abundant marine green algal group, the prasinophytes, alongside prasinodermophytes and nonmarine chlorophyte algae, is facilitating insights into plant developments. Genome-level data allow identification of conserved proteins and protein families with extensive modifications, losses, or gains and expansion patterns that connect to niche specialization and diversification. Here, we contextualize attributes according to Viridiplantae evolutionary relationships, starting with orthologous protein families, and then focusing on key elements with marked differentiation, resulting in patchy distributions across green algae and plants. We place attention on peptidoglycan biosynthesis, important for plastid division and walls; phytochrome photosensors that are master regulators in plants; and carbohydrate-active enzymes, essential to all manner of carbohydratebiotransformations. Together with advances in algal model systems, these areas are ripe for discovering molecular roles and innovations within and across plant and algal lineages. 
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  4. 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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