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  1. Bernstein, Hans C. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Cyanobacterial mats profoundly influenced Earth’s biological and geochemical evolution and still play important ecological roles in the modern world. However, the biogeochemical functioning of cyanobacterial mats under persistent low-O 2 conditions, which dominated their evolutionary history, is not well understood. To investigate how different metabolic and biogeochemical functions are partitioned among community members, we conducted metagenomics and metatranscriptomics on cyanobacterial mats in the low-O 2 , sulfidic Middle Island sinkhole (MIS) in Lake Huron. Metagenomic assembly and binning yielded 144 draft metagenome assembled genomes, including 61 of medium quality or better, and the dominant cyanobacteria and numerous Proteobacteria involved in sulfur cycling. Strains of a Phormidium autumnale -like cyanobacterium dominated the metagenome and metatranscriptome. Transcripts for the photosynthetic reaction core genes psaA and psbA were abundant in both day and night. Multiple types of psbA genes were expressed from each cyanobacterium, and the dominant psbA transcripts were from an atypical microaerobic type of D1 protein from Phormidium . Further, cyanobacterial transcripts for photosystem I genes were more abundant than those for photosystem II, and two types of Phormidium sulfide quinone reductase were recovered, consistent with anoxygenic photosynthesis via photosystem I in the presence of sulfide. Transcripts indicate active sulfurmore »oxidation and reduction within the cyanobacterial mat, predominately by Gammaproteobacteria and Deltaproteobacteria , respectively. Overall, these genomic and transcriptomic results link specific microbial groups to metabolic processes that underpin primary production and biogeochemical cycling in a low-O 2 cyanobacterial mat and suggest mechanisms for tightly coupled cycling of oxygen and sulfur compounds in the mat ecosystem. IMPORTANCE Cyanobacterial mats are dense communities of microorganisms that contain photosynthetic cyanobacteria along with a host of other bacterial species that play important yet still poorly understood roles in this ecosystem. Although such cyanobacterial mats were critical agents of Earth’s biological and chemical evolution through geological time, little is known about how they function under the low-oxygen conditions that characterized most of their natural history. Here, we performed sequencing of the DNA and RNA of modern cyanobacterial mat communities under low-oxygen and sulfur-rich conditions from the Middle Island sinkhole in Lake Huron. The results reveal the organisms and metabolic pathways that are responsible for both oxygen-producing and non-oxygen-producing photosynthesis as well as interconversions of sulfur that likely shape how much O 2 is produced in such ecosystems. These findings indicate tight metabolic reactions between community members that help to explain the limited the amount of O 2 produced in cyanobacterial mat ecosystems.« less
  2. Bernstein, Hans C. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Interactions between vibrio bacteria and the planktonic community impact marine ecology and human health. Many coastal Vibrio spp. can infect humans, representing a growing threat linked to increasing seawater temperatures. Interactions with eukaryotic organisms may provide attachment substrate and critical nutrients that facilitate the persistence, diversification, and spread of pathogenic Vibrio spp. However, vibrio interactions with planktonic organisms in an environmental context are poorly understood. We quantified the pathogenic Vibrio species V. cholerae , V. parahaemolyticus , and V. vulnificus monthly for 1 year at five sites and observed high abundances, particularly during summer months, with species-specific temperature and salinity distributions. Using metabarcoding, we established a detailed profile of both prokaryotic and eukaryotic coastal microbial communities. We found that pathogenic Vibrio species were frequently associated with distinct eukaryotic amplicon sequence variants (ASVs), including diatoms and copepods. Shared environmental conditions, such as high temperatures and low salinities, were associated with both high concentrations of pathogenic vibrios and potential environmental reservoirs, which may influence vibrio infection risks linked to climate change and should be incorporated into predictive ecological models and experimental laboratory systems. IMPORTANCE Many species of coastal vibrio bacteria can infect humans, representing a growing health threat linked to increasingmore »seawater temperatures. However, their interactions with surrounding microbes in the environment, especially eukaryotic organisms that may provide nutrients and attachment substrate, are poorly understood. We quantified three pathogenic Vibrio species monthly for a duration of 1 year, finding that all three species were abundant and exhibited species-specific temperature and salinity distributions. Using metabarcoding, we investigated associations between these pathogenic species and prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbes, revealing genus and amplicon sequence variant (ASV)-specific relationships with potential functional implications. For example, pathogenic species were frequently associated with chitin-producing eukaryotes, such as diatoms in the genus Thalassiosira and copepods. These associations between high concentrations of pathogenic vibrios and potential environmental reservoirs should be considered when predicting infection risk and developing ecologically relevant model systems.« less