[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Conserved markers such as the 16S rRNA gene do not provide sufficient molecular resolution to identify spatially structured populations of marine Synechococcus, or 'ecotypes' adapted to distinct ecological niches. Multi-locus sequence analysis targeting seven 'core' genes was employed to taxonomically resolve Synechococcus isolates and correlate previous phylogenetic analyses encompassing a range of markers. Despite the recognized importance of lateral gene transfer in shaping the genomes of marine cyanobacteria, multi-locus sequence analysis of more than 120 isolates reflects a clonal population structure of major lineages and subgroups. A single core genome locus, petB, encoding the cytochrome b(6) subunit of the cytochrome b(6) f complex, was selected to expand our understanding of the diversity and ecology of marine Synechococcus populations. Environmental petB sequences cloned from contrasting sites highlight numerous genetically and ecologically distinct clusters, some of which represent novel, environmentally abundant clades without cultured representatives. With a view to scaling ecological analyses, the short sequence, taxonomic resolution and accurate automated alignment of petB is ideally suited to high-throughput and high-resolution sequencing projects to explore links between the ecology, evolution and biology of marine Synechococcus.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Biological communities populating the Mediterranean Sea, which is situated at the northern boundary of the subtropics, are often claimed to be particularly affected by global warming. This is indicated, for instance, by the introduction of (sub)tropical species of fish or invertebrates that can displace local species. This raises the question of whether microbial communities are similarly affected, especially in the Levantine basin where sea surface temperatures have significantly risen over the last 25 years (0.50 ± 0.11 °C in average per decade, P < 0.01). In this paper, the genetic diversity of the two most abundant members of the phytoplankton community, the picocyanobacteria Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus, was examined during two cruises through both eastern and western Mediterranean Sea basins held in September 1999 (PROSOPE cruise) and in June–July 2008 (BOUM cruise). Diversity was studied using dot blot hybridization with clade-specific 16S rRNA oligonucleotide probes and/or clone libraries of the 16S-23S ribosomal DNA Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) region, with a focus on the abundance of clades that may constitute bioindicators of warm waters. During both cruises, the dominant Prochlorococcus clade in the upper mixed layer at all stations was HLI, a clade typical of temperate waters, whereas the HLII clade, the dominant group in (sub)tropical waters, was only present at very low concentrations. The Synechococcus community was dominated by clades I, III and IV in the northwestern waters of the Gulf of Lions and by clade III and groups genetically related to clades WPC1 and VI in the rest of the Mediterranean Sea. In contrast, only a few sequences of clade II, a group typical of warm waters, were observed. These data indicate that local cyanobacterial populations have not yet been displaced by their (sub)tropical counterparts.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 possesses two putative ABC-type inorganic phosphate (P(i)) transporters with three associated P(i)-binding proteins (PBPs), SphX (encoded by sll0679), PstS1 (encoded by sll0680), and PstS2 (encoded by slr1247), organized in two spatially discrete gene clusters, pst1 and pst2. We used a combination of mutagenesis, gene expression, and radiotracer uptake analyses to functionally characterize the role of these PBPs and associated gene clusters. Quantitative PCR (qPCR) demonstrated that pstS1 was expressed at a high level in P(i)-replete conditions compared to sphX or pstS2. However, a P(i) stress shift increased expression of pstS2 318-fold after 48 h, compared to 43-fold for pstS1 and 37-fold for sphX. A shift to high-light conditions caused a transient increase of all PBPs, whereas N stress primarily increased expression of sphX. Interposon mutagenesis of each PBP demonstrated that disruption of pstS1 alone caused constitutive expression of pho regulon genes, implicating PstS1 as a major component of the P(i) sensing machinery. The pstS1 mutant was also transformation incompetent. (32)P(i) radiotracer uptake experiments using pst1 and pst2 deletion mutants showed that Pst1 acts as a low-affinity, high-velocity transporter (K(s), 3.7 + or - 0.7 microM; V(max), 31.18 + or - 3.96 fmol cell(-1) min(-1)) and Pst2 acts as a high-affinity, low-velocity system (K(s), 0.07 + or - 0.01 microM; V(max), 0.88 + or - 0.11 fmol cell(-1) min(-1)). These P(i) ABC transporters thus exhibit differences in both kinetic and regulatory properties, the former trait potentially dramatically increasing the dynamic range of P(i) transport into the cell, which has potential implications for our understanding of the ecological success of this key microbial group.
Journal of bacteriology 07/2010; 192(13):3512-23. · 3.94 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous microarray analyses have shown a key role for the two-component system PhoBR (SYNW0947, SYNW0948) in the regulation of P transport and metabolism in the marine cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. WH8102. However, there is some evidence that another regulator, SYNW1019 (PtrA), probably under the control of PhoBR, is involved in the response to P depletion. PtrA is a member of the cAMP receptor protein transcriptional regulator family that shows homology to NtcA, the global nitrogen regulator in cyanobacteria. To define the role of this regulator, we constructed a mutant by insertional inactivation and compared the physiology of wild-type Synechcococcus sp. WH8102 with the ptrA mutant under P-replete and P-stress conditions. In response to P stress the ptrA mutant failed to upregulate phosphatase activity. Microarrays and quantitative RT-PCR indicate that a subset of the Pho regulon is controlled by PtrA, including two phosphatases, a predicted phytase and a gene of unknown function psip1 (SYNW0165), all of which are highly upregulated during P limitation. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays indicate binding of overexpressed PtrA to promoter sequences upstream of the induced genes. This work suggests a two-tiered response to P depletion in this strain, the first being PhoB-dependent induction of high-affinity PO(4) transporters, and the second the PtrA-dependent induction of phosphatases for scavenging organic P. The levels of numerous other transcripts are also directly or indirectly influenced by PtrA, including those involved in cell-surface modification, metal uptake, photosynthesis, stress responses and other metabolic processes, which may indicate a wider role for PtrA in cellular regulation in marine picocyanobacteria.
The ISME Journal 04/2010; 4(7):908-21. · 8.95 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Marine picocyanobacteria of the genera Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus numerically dominate the picophytoplankton of the world ocean, making a key contribution to global primary production. Prochlorococcus was isolated around 20 years ago and is probably the most abundant photosynthetic organism on Earth. The genus comprises specific ecotypes which are phylogenetically distinct and differ markedly in their photophysiology, allowing growth over a broad range of light and nutrient conditions within the 45 degrees N to 40 degrees S latitudinal belt that they occupy. Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus are closely related, together forming a discrete picophytoplankton clade, but are distinguishable by their possession of dissimilar light-harvesting apparatuses and differences in cell size and elemental composition. Synechococcus strains have a ubiquitous oceanic distribution compared to that of Prochlorococcus strains and are characterized by phylogenetically discrete lineages with a wide range of pigmentation. In this review, we put our current knowledge of marine picocyanobacterial genomics into an environmental context and present previously unpublished genomic information arising from extensive genomic comparisons in order to provide insights into the adaptations of these marine microbes to their environment and how they are reflected at the genomic level.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The picocyanobacterial genus Synechococcus occurs over wide oceanic expanses, having colonized most available niches in the photic zone. Large scale distribution patterns of the different Synechococcus clades (based on 16S rRNA gene markers) suggest the occurrence of two major lifestyles ('opportunists'/'specialists'), corresponding to two distinct broad habitats ('coastal'/'open ocean'). Yet, the genetic basis of niche partitioning is still poorly understood in this ecologically important group.
Here, we compare the genomes of 11 marine Synechococcus isolates, representing 10 distinct lineages. Phylogenies inferred from the core genome allowed us to refine the taxonomic relationships between clades by revealing a clear dichotomy within the main subcluster, reminiscent of the two aforementioned lifestyles. Genome size is strongly correlated with the cumulative lengths of hypervariable regions (or 'islands'). One of these, encompassing most genes encoding the light-harvesting phycobilisome rod complexes, is involved in adaptation to changes in light quality and has clearly been transferred between members of different Synechococcus lineages. Furthermore, we observed that two strains (RS9917 and WH5701) that have similar pigmentation and physiology have an unusually high number of genes in common, given their phylogenetic distance.
We propose that while members of a given marine Synechococcus lineage may have the same broad geographical distribution, local niche occupancy is facilitated by lateral gene transfers, a process in which genomic islands play a key role as a repository for transferred genes. Our work also highlights the need for developing picocyanobacterial systematics based on genome-derived parameters combined with ecological and physiological data.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Marine cyanobacteria of the genera Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus are important contributors to global primary production occupying a key position at the base of marine food webs. The genetically diverse nature of each genus is likely an important reason for their successful colonization of vast tracts of the world's oceans, a feature that has led to detailed analysis of the distribution of these genetic lineages at the local and ocean basin scale. Here, we extend these analyses to the global dimension, using new data from cruises in the Pacific, Indian and Arctic Oceans in combination with data from previous studies in the Atlantic Ocean, Arabian Sea, Red Sea and a circumnavigation of the southern hemisphere to form a data set which comprises most of the world's major ocean systems. We show that the distribution patterns of Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus lineages are remarkably similar in different ocean systems with comparable environmental conditions, but producing a strikingly different 'signature' in the four major ocean domains or biomes (the Polar Domain, Coastal Boundary Domain, Trade Winds Domain and Westerly Winds Domain). This clearly reiterates the idea of spatial partitioning of individual cyanobacterial lineages, but at the global scale.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Natural populations of the marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus exist as two main ecotypes, inhabiting different layers of the ocean's photic zone. These so-called high light- (HL-) and low light (LL-) adapted ecotypes are both physiologically and genetically distinct. HL strains can be separated into two major clades (HLI and HLII), whereas LL strains are more diverse. Here, we used several molecular techniques to study the genetic diversity of natural Prochlorococcus populations during the Prosope cruise in the Mediterranean Sea in the summer of 1999. Using a dot blot hybridization technique, we found that HLI was the dominant HL group and was confined to the upper mixed layer. In contrast, LL ecotypes were only found below the thermocline. Secondly, a restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of PCR-amplified pcb genes (encoding the major light-harvesting proteins of Prochlorococcus) suggested that there were at least four genetically different ecotypes, occupying distinct but overlapping light niches in the photic zone. At comparable depths, similar banding patterns were observed throughout the sampled area, suggesting a horizontal homogenization of ecotypes. Nevertheless, environmental pcb gene sequences retrieved from different depths at two stations proved all different at the nucleotide level, suggesting a large genetic microdiversity within those ecotypes.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An oligonucleotide primer, NITRO821R, targeting the 16S rRNA gene of unicellular cyanobacterial N2 fixers was developed based on newly derived sequences from Crocosphaera sp. strain WH 8501 and Cyanothece sp. strains WH 8902 and WH 8904 as well as several previously described sequences of Cyanothece sp. and sequences of intracellular cyanobacterial symbionts of the marine diatom Climacodium frauenfeldianum. This oligonucleotide is specific for the targeted organisms, which represent a well-defined phylogenetic lineage, and can detect as few as 50 cells in a standard PCR when it is used as a reverse primer together with the cyanobacterium- and plastid-specific forward primer CYA359F (U. Nubel, F. Garcia-Pichel, and G. Muyzer, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 63:3327-3332, 1997). Use of this primer pair in the PCR allowed analysis of the distribution of marine unicellular cyanobacterial diazotrophs along a transect following the 67 degrees E meridian from Victoria, Seychelles, to Muscat, Oman (0.5 degrees S to 26 degrees N) in the Arabian Sea. These organisms were found to be preferentially located in warm (>29 degrees C) oligotrophic subsurface waters between 0 and 7 degrees N, but they were also found at a station north of Oman at 26 degrees N, 56 degrees 35'E, where similar water column conditions prevailed. Slightly cooler oligotrophic waters (<29 degrees C) did not contain these organisms or the numbers were considerably reduced, suggesting that temperature is a key factor in dictating the abundance of this unicellular cyanobacterial diazotroph lineage in marine environments.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology 01/2005; 70(12):7355-64. · 3.68 Impact Factor