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Lucas, AJ, Dupont CL, Tai V, Largier JL, Palenik B, Franks PJS.  2011.  The green ribbon: Multiscale physical control of phytoplankton productivity and community structure over a narrow continental shelf. Limnology and Oceanography. 56:611-626.   10.4319/lo.2011.56.2.0611   AbstractWebsite

Chlorophyll concentration, phytoplankton biomass, and total and nitrate-fueled primary productivity increase toward the coast over the 12-km-wide continental shelf of the southern portion of the Southern California Bight. These gradients are accompanied by changes in phytoplankton community composition: the outer shelf is characterized by offshore assemblages including pelagophytes and oligotrophic Synechococcus ecotypes while the inner shelf is dominated by diatoms, coastal Synechococcus ecotypes, and the picoeukaryote Ostreococcus. Across the small horizontal scale of the shelf, large changes in the vertical distribution and flux of nitrate maintain elevated productivity, driving variability in the vertical distribution of biomass and the integrated biomass and productivity of the entire shelf. Temporal variability from hours to days in chlorophyll fluorescence as measured by an autonomous profiling vehicle demonstrates that phytoplankton respond vigorously and rapidly to physical variability. The interaction of physical processes at different temporal and spatial scales is responsible for the observed biological gradients. These dynamics include: (1) vertical shear in the alongshore currents, (2) local wind forcing, (3) the internal tide, and (4) remote, large-scale variability. Individually, these mechanisms rarely or never explain the phytoplankton community composition and metabolic rate gradients. These results and a reanalysis of historical data suggest that monitoring thermal stratification at the shelf break and the tilt of the thermocline across the shelf will augment our ability to predict phytoplankton productivity, community composition, and biomass, thereby improving our understanding of fisheries dynamics and carbon cycling in the coastal ocean.

Stuart, RK, Brahamsha B, Busby K, Palenik B.  2013.  Genomic island genes in a coastal marine Synechococcus strain confer enhanced tolerance to copper and oxidative stress. Isme Journal. 7:1139-1149.   10.1038/ismej.2012.175   AbstractWebsite

Highly variable regions called genomic islands are found in the genomes of marine picocyano-bacteria, and have been predicted to be involved in niche adaptation and the ecological success of these microbes. These picocyanobacteria are typically highly sensitive to copper stress and thus, increased copper tolerance could confer a selective advantage under some conditions seen in the marine environment. Through targeted gene inactivation of genomic island genes that were known to be upregulated in response to copper stress in Synechococcus sp. strain CC9311, we found two genes (sync_1495 and sync_1217) conferred tolerance to both methyl viologen and copper stress in culture. The prevalence of one gene, sync_1495, was then investigated in natural samples, and had a predictable temporal variability in abundance at a coastal monitoring site with higher abundance in winter months. Together, this shows that genomic island genes can confer an adaptive advantage to specific stresses in marine Synechococcus, and may help structure their population diversity.

Dupont, CL, McCrow JP, Valas R, Moustafa A, Walworth N, Goodenough U, Roth R, Hogle SL, Bai J, Johnson ZI, Mann E, Palenik B, Barbeau KA, Craig Venter J, Allen AE.  2015.  Genomes and gene expression across light and productivity gradients in eastern subtropical Pacific microbial communities. ISME J. 9:1076-1092.: International Society for Microbial Ecology   10.1038/ismej.2014.198   Abstract

Transitions in community genomic features and biogeochemical processes were examined in surface and subsurface chlorophyll maximum (SCM) microbial communities across a trophic gradient from mesotrophic waters near San Diego, California to the oligotrophic Pacific. Transect end points contrasted in thermocline depth, rates of nitrogen and CO2 uptake, new production and SCM light intensity. Relative to surface waters, bacterial SCM communities displayed greater genetic diversity and enrichment in putative sulfur oxidizers, multiple actinomycetes, low-light-adapted Prochlorococcus and cell-associated viruses. Metagenomic coverage was not correlated with transcriptional activity for several key taxa within Bacteria. Low-light-adapted Prochlorococcus, Synechococcus, and low abundance gamma-proteobacteria enriched in the>3.0-[mu]m size fraction contributed disproportionally to global transcription. The abundance of these groups also correlated with community functions, such as primary production or nitrate uptake. In contrast, many of the most abundant bacterioplankton, including SAR11, SAR86, SAR112 and high-light-adapted Prochlorococcus, exhibited low levels of transcriptional activity and were uncorrelated with rate processes. Eukaryotes such as Haptophytes and non-photosynthetic Aveolates were prevalent in surface samples while Mamielles and Pelagophytes dominated the SCM. Metatranscriptomes generated with ribosomal RNA-depleted mRNA (total mRNA) coupled to in vitro polyadenylation compared with polyA-enriched mRNA revealed a trade-off in detection eukaryotic organelle and eukaryotic nuclear origin transcripts, respectively. Gene expression profiles of SCM eukaryote populations, highly similar in sequence identity to the model pelagophyte Pelagomonas sp. CCMP1756, suggest that pelagophytes are responsible for a majority of nitrate assimilation within the SCM.

Palenik, B, Ren Q, Dupont CL, Myers GS, Heidelberg JF, Badger JH, Madupu R, Nelson WC, Brinkac LM, Dodson RJ, Durkin SA, Daugherty SC, Sullivan SA, Khouri H, Mohamoud Y, Halpin R, Paulsen IT.  2006.  Genome sequence of Synechococcus CC9311: Insights into adaptation to a coastal environment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 103:13555-13559.   10.1073/pnas.0602963103   AbstractWebsite

Coastal aquatic environments are typically more highly productive and dynamic than open ocean ones. Despite these differences, cyanobacteria from the genus Synechococcus are important primary producers in both types of ecosystems. We have found that the genome of a coastal cyanobacterium, Synechococcus sp. strain CC9311, has significant differences from an open ocean strain, Synechococcus sp. strain WH8102, and these are consistent with the differences between their respective environments. CC9311 has a greater capacity to sense and respond to changes in its (coastal) environment. It has a much larger capacity to transport, store, use, or export metals, especially iron and copper. In contrast, phosphate acquisition seems less important, consistent with the higher concentration of phosphate in coastal environments. CC9311 is predicted to have differences in its outer membrane lipopolysaccharide, and this may be characteristic of the speciation of some cyanobacterial groups. In addition, the types of potentially horizontally transferred genes are markedly different between the coastal and open ocean genomes and suggest a more prominent role for phages in horizontal gene transfer in oligotrophic environments.

Foflonker, F, Price DC, Qiu H, Palenik B, Wang SY, Bhattacharya D.  2015.  Genome of the halotolerant green alga Picochlorum sp reveals strategies for thriving under fluctuating environmental conditions. Environmental Microbiology. 17:412-426.   10.1111/1462-2920.12541   AbstractWebsite

An expected outcome of climate change is intensification of the global water cycle, which magnifies surface water fluxes, and consequently alters salinity patterns. It is therefore important to understand the adaptations and limits of microalgae to survive changing salinities. To this end, we sequenced the 13.5Mbp genome of the halotolerant green alga PicochlorumSENEW3 (SE3) that was isolated from a brackish water pond subject to large seasonal salinity fluctuations. PicochlorumSE3 encodes 7367 genes, making it one of the smallest and most gene dense eukaryotic genomes known. Comparison with the pico-prasinophyte Ostreococcus tauri, a species with a limited range of salt tolerance, reveals the enrichment of transporters putatively involved in the salt stress response in PicochlorumSE3. Analysis of cultures and the protein complement highlight the metabolic flexibility of PicochlorumSE3 that encodes genes involved in urea metabolism, acetate assimilation and fermentation, acetoin production and glucose uptake, many of which form functional gene clusters. Twenty-four cases of horizontal gene transfer from bacterial sources were found in PicochlorumSE3 with these genes involved in stress adaptation including osmolyte production and growth promotion. Our results identify PicochlorumSE3 as a model for understanding microalgal adaptation to stressful, fluctuating environments.

Armbrust, EV, Berges JA, Bowler C, Green BR, Martinez D, Putnam NH, Zhou SG, Allen AE, Apt KE, Bechner M, Brzezinski MA, Chaal BK, Chiovitti A, Davis AK, Demarest MS, Detter JC, Glavina T, Goodstein D, Hadi MZ, Hellsten U, Hildebrand M, Jenkins BD, Jurka J, Kapitonov VV, Kroger N, Lau WWY, Lane TW, Larimer FW, Lippmeier JC, Lucas S, Medina M, Montsant A, Obornik M, Parker MS, Palenik B, Pazour GJ, Richardson PM, Rynearson TA, Saito MA, Schwartz DC, Thamatrakoln K, Valentin K, Vardi A, Wilkerson FP, Rokhsar DS.  2004.  The genome of the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana: Ecology, evolution, and metabolism. Science. 306:79-86.   10.1126/science.1101156   AbstractWebsite

Diatoms are unicellular algae with plastids acquired by secondary endosymbiosis. They are responsible for similar to20% of global carbon fixation. We report the 34 million-base pair draft nuclear genome of the marine diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana and its 129 thousand-base pair ptastid and 44 thousand-base pair mitochondrial genomes. Sequence and optical restriction mapping revealed 24 diploid nuclear chromosomes. We identified novel genes for silicic acid transport and formation of silica-based cell walls, high-affinity iron uptake, biosynthetic enzymes for several types of polyunsaturated fatty acids, use of a range of nitrogenous compounds, and a complete urea cycle, all attributes that allow diatoms to prosper in aquatic environments.

Palenik, B, Brahamsha B, Larimer FW, Land M, Hauser L, Chain P, Lamerdin J, Regala W, Allen EE, McCarren J, Paulsen I, Dufresne A, Partensky F, Webb EA, Waterbury J.  2003.  The genome of a motile marine Synechococcus. Nature. 424:1037.: Macmillan Magazines Ltd.   10.1038/nature01943   Abstract

Marine unicellular cyanobacteria are responsible for an estimated 20–40% of chlorophyll biomass and carbon fixation in the oceans1. Here we have sequenced and analysed the 2.4-megabase genome of Synechococcus sp. strain WH8102, revealing some of the ways that these organisms have adapted to their largely oligotrophic environment. WH8102 uses organic nitrogen and phosphorus sources and more sodium-dependent transporters than a model freshwater cyanobacterium. Furthermore, it seems to have adopted strategies for conserving limited iron stores by using nickel and cobalt in some enzymes, has reduced its regulatory machinery (consistent with the fact that the open ocean constitutes a far more constant and buffered environment than fresh water), and has evolved a unique type of swimming motility. The genome of WH8102 seems to have been greatly influenced by horizontal gene transfer, partially through phages. The genetic material contributed by horizontal gene transfer includes genes involved in the modification of the cell surface and in swimming motility. On the basis of its genome, WH8102 is more of a generalist than two related marine cyanobacteria2.

Dupont, CL, Johnson DA, Phillippy K, Paulsen IT, Brahamsha B, Palenik B.  2012.  Genetic identification of a high-affinity Ni transporter and the transcriptional response to Ni deprivation in Synechococcus sp. strain WH8102. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 78:7822-7832.   10.1128/aem.01739-12   AbstractWebsite

One biological need for Ni in marine cyanobacteria stems from the utilization of the Ni metalloenzyme urease for the assimilation of urea as a nitrogen source. In many of the same cyanobacteria, including Synechococcus sp. strain WH8102, an additional and obligate nutrient requirement for Ni results from usage of a Ni superoxide dismutase (Ni-SOD), which is encoded by sodN. To better understand the effects of Ni deprivation on WH8102, parallel microarray-based analysis of gene expression and gene knockout experiments were conducted. The global transcriptional response to Ni deprivation depends upon the nitrogen source provided for growth; fewer than 1% of differentially expressed genes for Ni deprivation on ammonium or urea were concordantly expressed. Surprisingly, genes for putative Ni transporters, including one colocalized on the genome with sodN, sodT, were not induced despite an increase in Ni transport. Knockouts of the putative Ni transporter gene sodT appeared to be lethal in WH8102, so the genes for sodT and sodN in WH8102 were interrupted with the gene for Fe-SOD, sodB, and its promoter from Synechococcus sp. strain WH7803. The sodT:: sodB exconjugants were unable to grow at low Ni concentrations, confirming that SodT is a Ni transporter. The sodN::sodB exconjugants displayed higher growth rates at low Ni concentrations than did the wild type, presumably due to a relaxed competition between urease and Ni-SOD for Ni. Both sodT::sodB and sodN::sodB lines exhibited an impaired ability to grow at low Fe concentrations. We propose a posttranslational allosteric SodT regulation involving the binding of Ni to a histidine-rich intracellular protein loop.

Davis, AK, Hildebrand M, Palenik B.  2006.  Gene expression induced by copper stress in the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana. Eukaryotic Cell. 5:1157-1168.   10.1128/ec.00042-06   AbstractWebsite

Utilizing a PCR-based subtractive cDNA approach, we demonstrated that the marine diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana exhibits a rapid response at the gene level to elevated concentrations of copper and that this response attenuates over 24 h of continuous exposure. A total of 16 copper-induced genes were identified, 11 of which were completely novel; however, many of the predicted amino acid sequences had characteristics suggestive of roles in ameliorating copper toxicity. Most of the novel genes were not equivalently induced by H2O2- or Cd-induced stress, indicating specificity in response. Two genes that could be assigned functions based on homology were also induced under conditions of general cellular stress. Half of the identified genes were located within two inverted repeats in the genome, and novel genes in one inverted repeat had mRNA levels induced by similar to 500- to 2,000-fold by exposure to copper for 1 h. Additionally, some of the inverted repeat genes demonstrated a dose-dependent response to Cu, but not Cd, and appear to belong to a multigene family. This multigene family may be the diatom functional homolog of metallothioneins.