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Apple, JK, Strom SL, Palenik B, Brahamsha B.  2011.  Variability in protist grazing and growth on different marine Synechococcus isolates. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 77:3074-3084.   10.1128/aem.02241-10   AbstractWebsite

Grazing mortality of the marine phytoplankton Synechococcus is dominated by planktonic protists, yet rates of consumption and factors regulating grazer-Synechococcus interactions are poorly understood. One aspect of predator-prey interactions for which little is known are the mechanisms by which Synechococcus avoids or resists predation and, in turn, how this relates to the ability of Synechococcus to support growth of protist grazer populations. Grazing experiments conducted with the raptorial dinoflagellate Oxyrrhis marina and phylogenetically diverse Synechococcus isolates (strains WH8102, CC9605, CC9311, and CC9902) revealed marked differences in grazing rates-specifically that WH8102 was grazed at significantly lower rates than all other isolates. Additional experiments using the heterotrophic nanoflagellate Goniomonas pacifica and the filter-feeding tintinnid ciliate Eutintinnis sp. revealed that this pattern in grazing susceptibility among the isolates transcended feeding guilds and grazer taxon. Synechococcus cell size, elemental ratios, and motility were not able to explain differences in grazing rates, indicating that other features play a primary role in grazing resistance. Growth of heterotrophic protists was poorly coupled to prey ingestion and was influenced by the strain of Synechococcus being consumed. Although Synechococcus was generally a poor-quality food source, it tended to support higher growth and survival of G. pacifica and O. marina relative to Eutintinnis sp., indicating that suitability of Synechococcus varies among grazer taxa and may be a more suitable food source for the smaller protist grazers. This work has developed tractable model systems for further studies of grazer-Synechococcus interactions in marine microbial food webs.

Paerl, RW, Bertrand EM, Allen AE, Palenik B, Azam F.  2015.  Vitamin B1 ecophysiology of marine picoeukaryotic algae: Strain-specific differences and a new role for bacteria in vitamin cycling. Limnology and Oceanography. 60:215-228.   10.1002/lno.10009   AbstractWebsite

We confirmed multiple picoeukaryotic algae, Ostreococcus, Micromonas, and Pelagomonas spp., as thiamine (vitamin B1) auxotrophs in laboratory experiments with axenic cultures. Examined strains have half saturation growth constants (K-s) for B1 between 1.26 and 6.22 pmol B1 L-1, which is higher than reported seawater concentrations. Minimum B1 cell quotas for Ostreococcus and Micromonas spp. are high (2.20 x 10(-8)-4.46 x 10(-8) pmol B1 cell(-1)) relative to other B1 auxotrophic phytoplankton, potentially making them B1 rich prey for zooplankton and significant B1 reservoirs in oligotrophic marine habitats. Ostreococcus and Micromonas genomes are nonuniformly missing portions of the B1 biosynthesis pathway. Given their gene repertoires, Ostreococcus lucimarinus CCE9901 and Ostreococcus tauri OTH95 are expected to salvage B1 from externally provided 4-methyl-5-thiazoleethanol (HET) and 4-amino-5-hydroxymethyl-2-methylpyrimidine (HMP). However, in culture, neither could use HET plus HMP instead of B1, highlighting current limitations of genome-based prediction of B1 salvaging by picoeukaryotic algae. HMP and phosphorylated B1 use varied amongst tested strains and notably all Prasinophytes tested could not use HMP. B1-limited O. lucimarinus CCE9901 could not grow on added thiamine diphosphate (TDP), a phosophorylated B1 form. However, in co-culture with Pseudoalteromonas sp. TW7, a bacterium known to exhibit phosphatase activity, O. lucimarinus CCE9901 exhibited increased growth following TDP additions. This demonstrates that bacteria influence vitamin B1 availability beyond de novo synthesis and consumption; they can also serve as conduits that chemically alter, but not completely degrade or retain B1 analogs (e.g., TDP), and make them accessible to a broader range of microbes.