Nitrogen assimilation in picocyanobacteria inhabiting the oxygen‐deficient waters of the eastern tropical North and South Pacific.

Aldunate, Montserrat, Henríquez‐Castillo, Carlos, Ji, Qixing , Lueders‐Dumont, Jessica, Mulholland, Margaret R., Ward, Bess B., Dassow, Peter and Ulloa, Osvaldo (2020) Nitrogen assimilation in picocyanobacteria inhabiting the oxygen‐deficient waters of the eastern tropical North and South Pacific. Open Access Limnology and Oceanography, 65 (2). pp. 437-453. DOI 10.1002/lno.11315.

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Abstract

Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus are the most abundant free-living photosynthetic microorganisms in the ocean. Uncultivated lineages of these picocyanobacteria also thrive in the dimly illuminated upper part of oxygen-deficient zones (ODZs), where an important portion of ocean nitrogen (N) loss takes place via denitrification and anaerobic ammonium oxidation. Recent metagenomic studies revealed that ODZ Prochlorococcus have the genetic potential for using different N forms, including nitrate and nitrite, uncommon N sources for Prochlorococcus, but common for Synechococcus. To determine which N sources ODZ picocyanobacteria are actually using in nature, the cellular N-15 natural abundance (delta N-15) and assimilation rates of different N compounds were determined using cell sorting by flow cytometry and mass spectrometry. The natural delta N-15 of the ODZ Prochlorococcus varied from -4.0 parts per thousand to 13.0 parts per thousand (n = 9), with 50% of the values in the range of -2.1-2.6 parts per thousand. While the highest values suggest nitrate use, most observations indicate the use of nitrite, ammonium, or a mixture of N sources. Meanwhile, incubation experiments revealed potential assimilation rates of ammonium and urea in the same order of magnitude as that expected for total N in several environments including ODZs, whereas rates of nitrite and nitrate assimilation were very low. Our results thus indicate that reduced forms of N and nitrite are the dominant sources for ODZ picocyanobacteria, although nitrate might be important on some occasions. ODZ picocyanobacteria might thus represent potential competitors with anammox bacteria for ammonium and nitrite, with ammonia-oxidizing archaea for ammonium, and with nitrite-oxidizing bacteria for nitrite.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-BM Biogeochemical Modeling
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-CH Chemical Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1002/lno.11315
ISSN: 0024-3590
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2019 08:55
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2020 11:24
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/47887

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