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Dupont, CL, Barbeau K, Palenik B.  2008.  Ni uptake and limitation in marine Synechococcus strains. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 74:23-31.   10.1128/aem.01007-07   AbstractWebsite

Ni accumulation and utilization were studied in two strains of marine Synechococcus, isolated from both coastal (CC9311; clade I) and open-ocean (WTH8102; clade III) environments, for which complete genome sequences are available. Both strains have genes encoding an Ni-containing urease and when grown on urea without Ni become Ni-N colimited. The Ni requirements of these strains also depend upon the genomic complement of genes encoding superoxide dismutase (SOD). WH8102, with a gene encoding only an Ni-SOD, has a novel obligate requirement for Ni, regardless of the N source. Reduced SOD activity in Ni-depleted cultures of VM8102 supports the link of this strain's Ni requirement to Ni-SOD. The genome of CC9311 contains a gene for a Cu/Zn-SOD in addition to a predicted pair of Ni-SODs, yet this strain cannot grow without Ni on NO3- and can grow only slowly on NH4+ without Ni, implying that the Cu/Zn-SOD cannot completely replace Ni-SOD in marine cyanobacteria. CC9311 does have a greater tolerance for Ni starvation. Both strains increase their Ni uptake capabilities and actively bioconcentrate Ni in response to decreasing extracellular and intracellular Ni. The changes in Ni uptake rates were more pronounced in WH8102 than in CC9311 and for growth on urea or nitrate than for growth on ammonia. These results, combined with an analysis of fully sequenced marine cyanobacterial genomes, suggest that the growth of many marine Synechococcus and all Prochlorococcus strains is dependent upon Ni.

Davis, AK, Palenik B.  2008.  Characterization of a modular, cell-surface protein and identification of a new gene family in the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana. Protist. 159:195-207.   10.1016/j.protis.2007.09.006   AbstractWebsite

We report the characterization of a cell-surface protein isolated from copper-stressed cells of the centric diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana Hasle and Heimdal (CCMP 1335). This protein has an apparent molecular weight of 100kDa and is highly acidic. The 100kDa protein (p100) sequence is comprised almost entirely of a novel domain termed TpRCR for T pseudonana repetitive cysteine-rich domain, that is repeated 8 times and that contains conserved aromatic, acidic, and potential metal-binding amino acids. The analysis of the T pseudonana genome suggests that p100 belongs to a large family of modular proteins that consist of a variable number of TpRCR domain repeats. Based on cell surface biotinylation and antibody data, p100 appears to migrate more rapidly with SDS-PAGE when extracted from cells exposed to high levels of copper; however, the discovery of a large family of TpRCR domain-containing proteins leaves open the possibility that the antibody may be crossreacting with members of this protein family that are responding differently to copper. The response of the gene encoding p100 at the mRNA level during synchronized progression through the normal cell cycle is similar to previously characterized genes in T pseudonana encoding cell wall proteins called silaffins. (c) 2007 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

Dufresne, A, Ostrowski M, Scanlan DJ, Garczarek L, Mazard S, Palenik BP, Paulsen IT, de Marsac NT, Wincker P, Dossat C, Ferriera S, Johnson J, Post AF, Hess WR, Partensky F.  2008.  Unraveling the genomic mosaic of a ubiquitous genus of marine cyanobacteria. Genome Biology. 9   10.1186/gb-2008-9-5-r90   AbstractWebsite

Background: 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. Results: 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. Conclusion: 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.

Palenik, B, Grimwood J, Aerts A, Rouze P, Salamov A, Putnam N, Dupont C, Jorgensen R, Derelle E, Rombauts S, Zhou K, Otillar R, Merchant SS, Podell S, Gaasterland T, Napoli C, Gendler K, Manuell A, Tai V, Vallon O, Piganeau G, Jancek S, Heijde M, Jabbari K, Bowler C, Lohr M, Robbens S, Werner G, Dubchak I, Pazour GJ, Ren Q, Paulsen I, Delwiche C, Schmutz J, Rokhsar D, Van de Peer Y, Moreau H, Grigoriev IV.  2007.  The tiny eukaryote Ostreococcus provides genomic insights into the paradox of plankton speciation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 104:7705-7710.   10.1073/pnas.0611046104   AbstractWebsite

The smallest known eukaryotes, at approximate to 1-mu m diameter, are ostreococcus tauri and related species of marine phytoplankton. The genome of Ostreococcus lucimarinus has been completed and compared with that of O. tauri. This comparison reveals surprising differences across orthologous chromosomes in the two species from highly syntenic chromosomes in most cases to chromosomes with almost no similarity. Species divergence in these phytoplankton is occurring through multiple mechanisms acting differently on different chromosomes and likely including acquisition of new genes through horizontal gene transfer. We speculate that this latter process may be involved in altering the cell-surface characteristics of each species. In addition, the genome of O. lucimarinus provides insights into the unique metal metabolism of these organisms, which are predicted to have a large number of selenocysteine-containing proteins. Selenoenzymes are more catalytically active than similar enzymes lacking selenium, and thus the cell may require less of that protein. As reported here, selenoenzymes, novel fusion proteins, and loss of some major protein families including ones associated with chromatin are likely important adaptations for achieving a small cell size.

de la Broise, D, Palenik B.  2007.  Immersed in situ microcosms: A tool for the assessment of pollution impact on phytoplankton. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 341:274-281.   10.1016/j.jembe.2006.10.045   AbstractWebsite

In situ phytoplankton microcosms were developed and characterized for use in toxicity testing. The microcosms contained 225 mu m filtered seawater maintained in 1 liter glass bottles attached to a plastic frame and immersed at 3 in under the sea surface. Synechococcus and picoeukaryote population dynamics in microcosms and the surrounding water were compared. A bloom-like behaviour observed for Synechococcus in these phytoplankton microcosms was avoided when 10% of the culture volume was replaced, every two days, by filtered seawater. After 2 weeks, no significant difference in Synechococcus and picoeukaryotes cell counts was observed in microcosms compared to the surrounding free seawater. Synechococcus fluorescence at 545 nm (phycoerythrobilin) fluctuated with a similar pattern in such microcosms and in free seawater and were shown to be correlated to light intensity fluctuations over a two week experiment. The in situ microcosms were used to study the impact of low copper additions. Synechococcus populations were dramatically decreased by copper addition, while picoeukaryote populations were increased simultaneously. Our data show that drastic changes in species composition can occur at copper concentrations encountered in polluted coastal areas. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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.

Dupont, CL, Yang S, Palenik B, Bourne PE.  2006.  Modern proteomes contain putative imprints of ancient shifts in trace metal geochemistry. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 103:17822-17827.   10.1073/pnas.0605798103   AbstractWebsite

Because of the rise in atmospheric oxygen 2.3 billion years ago (Gya) and the subsequent changes in oceanic redox state over the last 2.3-1 Gya, trace metal bioavailability in marine environments has changed dramatically. Although theorized to have influenced the biological usage of metals leaving discernable genomic signals, a thorough and quantitative test of this hypothesis has been lacking. Using structural bioinformatics and whole-genome sequences, the Fe-, Zn-, Mn-, and Co-binding metallomes of 23 Archaea, 233 Bacteria, and 57 Eukarya were constructed. These metallomes reveal that the overall abundances of these metal-binding structures scale to proteome size as power laws with a unique set of slopes for each Superkingdom of Life. The differences in the power describing the abundances of Fe-, Mrl Zn-, and Co-binding proteins in the proteomes of Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes are similar to the theorized changes in the abundances of these metals after the oxygenation of oceanic deep waters. This phenomenon suggests that Prokarya and Eukarya evolved in anoxic and oxic environments, respectively, a hypothesis further supported by structures and functions of Fe-binding proteins in each Superkingdom. Also observed is a proliferation in the diversity of Zn-binding protein structures involved in protein-DNA and protein-protein interactions within Eukarya, an event unlikely to occur in either an anoxic or euxinic environment where Zn concentrations would be vanishingly low. We hypothesize that these conserved trends are proteomic imprints of changes in trace metal bioavailability in the ancient ocean that highlight a major evolutionary shift in biological trace metal usage.

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.

Landry, DM, Gaasterland T, Palenik BP.  2006.  Molecular characterization of a phosphate-regulated cell-surface protein from the coccolithophorid, Emiliania huxleyi (Prymnesiophyceae). Journal of Phycology. 42:814-821.   10.1111/j.1529-8817.2006.00247.x   AbstractWebsite

Emiliania huxleyi (Lohmann) Hay et Mohler is a cosmopolitan coccolithophorid that is known to be an excellent competitor for phosphate. A previous survey of cell-surface proteins induced by phosphorus limitation in strain CCMP 374 yielded three abundant proteins. Using CCMP 1516, the strain chosen for genome sequence determination, we report the cDNA, genomic, and amino acid sequence of one cell-surface phosphorus-limitation induced protein and evidence that a second protein is highly similar. The introns within the genomic DNA encoding this cell-surface protein as well as those defined by other phosphate-regulated expressed sequence tags are analyzed. As these proteins are the most abundant cell-surface proteins present under phosphorus limitation, they likely have a role in the ability of this organism to compete for phosphate.

Su, ZC, Mao FL, Dam P, Wu HW, Olman V, Paulsen IT, Palenik B, Xu Y.  2006.  Computational inference and experimental validation of the nitrogen assimilation regulatory network in cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp WH 8102. Nucleic Acids Research. 34:1050-1065.   10.1093/nar/gkj496   AbstractWebsite

Deciphering the regulatory networks encoded in the genome of an organism represents one of the most interesting and challenging tasks in the post-genome sequencing era. As an example of this problem, we have predicted a detailed model for the nitrogen assimilation network in cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. WH 8102 (WH8102) using a computational protocol based on comparative genomics analysis and mining experimental data from related organisms that are relatively well studied. This computational model is in excellent agreement with the microarray gene expression data collected under ammonium-rich versus nitrate-rich growth conditions, suggesting that our computational protocol is capable of predicting biological pathways/networks with high accuracy. We then refined the computational model using the microarray data, and proposed a new model for the nitrogen assimilation network in WH8102. An intriguing discovery from this study is that nitrogen assimilation affects the expression of many genes involved in photosynthesis, suggesting a tight coordination between nitrogen assimilation and photosynthesis processes. Moreover, for some of these genes, this coordination is probably mediated by NtcA through the canonical NtcA promoters in their regulatory regions.

Davis, AK, Hildebrand M, Palenik B.  2005.  A stress-induced protein associated with the girdle band region of the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana (Bacillariophyta). Journal of Phycology. 41:577-589.   10.1111/j.1529-8817.2005.00076.x   AbstractWebsite

We report the characterization of a cell-surface protein isolated from the centric diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana Hasle and Heimdal. This protein has an apparent molecular weight of 150 kDa, is highly acidic, and is intimately associated with the cell wall. Although originally identified in cells experiencing copper toxicity, it is also induced by silicon and iron limitation but not by phosphate or nitrate limitation. Using immunofluorescence techniques, the 150-kDa protein was localized to the girdle band region and covered the elongated girdle band region of morphologically aberrant cells suffering from copper toxicity. Although having biochemical similarities to girdle band associated proteins identified in pennate diatoms known as pleuralins, the 150-kDa protein is not a sequence homolog and is predicted to have a number of unique features, such as chitin binding domains and a possible RGD cell attachment motif. Results presented here suggest that this protein is normally cell cycle regulated and may be involved in stabilizing cells during the division process.

Sandhage, KH, Allan SM, Dickerson MB, Gaddis CS, Shian S, Weatherspoon MR, Cai Y, Ahmad G, Haluska MS, Snyder RL, Unocic RR, Zalar FM, Zhang YS, Rapp RA, Hildebrand M, Palenik BP.  2005.  Merging biological self-assembly with synthetic chemical tailoring: The potential for 3-D genetically engineered micro/nano-devices (3-D GEMS). International Journal of Applied Ceramic Technology. 2:317-326.   10.1111/j.1744-7402.2005.02035.x   AbstractWebsite

Appreciable global efforts are underway to develop processes for fabricating three-dimensional (3-D) nanostructured assemblies for advanced devices. Widespread commercialization of such devices will require: (i) precise 3-D fabrication of chemically tailored structures on a fine scale and (ii) mass production of such structures on a large scale. These often-conflicting demands can be addressed with a revolutionary new paradigm that couples biological self-assembly with synthetic chemistry: Bioclastic and Shape-preserving Inorganic Conversion (BaSIC). Nature provides numerous examples of microorganisms that assemble biominerals into intricate 3-D structures. Among the most spectacular of these microorganisms are diatoms (unicellular algae). Each of the tens of thousands of diatom species assembles silica nanoparticles into a microshell with a distinct 3-D shape and pattern of fine (nanoscale) features. The repeated doubling associated with biological reproduction enables enormous numbers of such 3-D microshells to be generated (e.g., only 40 reproduction cycles can yield >1 trillion 3-D replicas!). Such generic precision and massive parallelism are highly attractive for device manufacturing. However, the natural chemistries assembled by diatoms (and other microorganisms) are rather limited. With BaSIC processes, biogenic assemblies can be converted into a wide variety of new functional chemistries, while preserving the 3-D morphologies. Ongoing advances in genetic engineering promise to yield microorganisms tailored to assemble nanoparticle structures with device-specific shapes. Large-scale culturing of such genetically tailored microorganisms, coupled with shape-preserving chemical conversion (via BaSIC processes), would then provide low-cost 3-D Genetically Engineered Micro/nano-devices (3-D GEMs).

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.

Worden, AZ, Nolan JK, Palenik B.  2004.  Assessing the dynamics and ecology of marine picophytoplankton: The importance of the eukaryotic component. Limnology and Oceanography. 49:168-179. AbstractWebsite
Chen, X, Su Z, Dam P, Palenik B, Xu Y, Jiang T.  2004.  Operon prediction by comparative genomics: an application to the Synechococcus sp WH8102 genome. Nucleic Acids Research. 32:2147-2157.   10.1093/nar/gkh510   AbstractWebsite

We present a computational method for operon prediction based on a comparative genomics approach. A group of consecutive genes is considered as a candidate operon if both their gene sequences and functions are conserved across several phylogenetically related genomes. In addition, various supporting data for operons are also collected through the application of public domain computer programs, and used in our prediction method. These include the prediction of conserved gene functions, promoter motifs and terminators. An apparent advantage of our approach over other operon prediction methods is that it does not require many experimental data (such as gene expression data and pathway data) as input. This feature makes it applicable to many newly sequenced genomes that do not have extensive experimental information. In order to validate our prediction, we have tested the method on Escherichia coli K12, in which operon structures have been extensively studied, through a comparative analysis against Haemophilus influenzae Rd and Salmonella typhimurium LT2. Our method successfully predicted most of the 237 known operons. After this initial validation, we then applied the method to a newly sequenced and annotated microbial genome, Synechococcus sp. WH8102, through a comparative genome analysis with two other cyanobacterial genomes, Prochlorococcus marinus sp. MED4 and P.marinus sp. MIT9313. Our results are consistent with previously reported results and statistics on operons in the literature.

Toledo, G, Palenik B.  2003.  A Synechococcus serotype is found preferentially in surface marine waters. Limnology and Oceanography. 48:1744-1755. AbstractWebsite

In marine ecosystems, gradients of light, temperature, and nutrients occur horizontally (coastal to offshore) and vertically. The extent to which microorganisms acclimate or speciate in response to these gradients is under active investigation. Strain isolation data (e.g., site or depth), environmental DNA clone libraries, and preliminary physiology experiments have indicated that marine Synechococcus strain CC9605 might be adapted to the surface oligotrophic ocean. In the present work, we used an immunofluorescent approach to detect the CC9605 serotype in the California Current during September 1998. At two offshore stations, samples were collected along vertical profiles. The relative abundance of the CC9605 serotype was significantly higher in shallow depths within the mixed layer than in deeper depths at the two stations, with maximum values (+/- standard deviation) of 10.3% +/- 6.4 and 28.7% +/- 9.5. Surface samples along an offshore-inshore transect showed higher abundance in the most oligotrophic site (8% +/- 3), compared with almost 1% inshore, but one coastal site also had high relative abundance of the CC9605 serotype (7% +/- 0.5). These data indicate that Synechococcus strains are not uniformly distributed and that some strains, such as CC9605, are more abundant in the mixed layer of the euphotic zone than below the mixed layer.

Dyhrman, ST, Palenik B.  2003.  Characterization of ectoenzyme activity and phosphate-regulated proteins in the coccolithophorid Emiliania huxleyi. Journal of Plankton Research. 25:1215-1225.   10.1093/plankt/fbg086   AbstractWebsite

Three phosphate-regulated proteins in the coccolithophorid Emiliania huxleyi were detected by the biotinylation of cell-surface proteins. Two of these phosphate-regulated proteins have reduced denatured molecular weights near I 10 000 Do (118 078 and 110 541, respectively), while the third, and most abundant, is 69 087 Da. Induction of the three proteins and the common marker of phosphate stress, alkaline phosphatase activity, occur in the presence of <0.25 mu M inorganic phosphate in batch culture. Phosphate-regulated proteins and enzyme activity differed among E. huxleyi strains. Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme commonly induced by phytoplankton in response to phosphate stress in order for cells to scavenge inorganic phosphate from organic sources. In E. huxleyi, this enzyme activity and the phosphate-regulated proteins are rapidly lost when phosphate is added back to phosphate-stressed cultures. This contrasts with the slower loss of alkaline phosphatase activity in the dinoflagellate Prorocentrum minimum. The presence of the three phosphate-regulated proteins and enzyme activity appear to differ somewhat among E. huxleyi strains. Based on these differences between strains, kinetic data, growth experiments and enzyme activities, the 69 087 Da protein may be a phosphatase with a high specificity for 5'-nucleotides.

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.

Collier, JL, Palenik B.  2003.  Phycoerythrin-containing picoplankton in the Southern California Bight. Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography. 50:2405-2422.   10.1016/s0967-0645(03)00127-9   AbstractWebsite

Flow cytometry was used to examine the distribution of phycoerythrin-rich picophytoplankton. referred to here as Synechococcus, off the Southern California coast during six California Cooperative oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) cruises. Depth profiles revealed that Synechococcus was most abundant in the surface mixed layer, gradually disappearing with depth below the thermocline. Within the surface mixed layer, Synechococcus abundance was generally greater and more variable at stations shoreward of the California Current than at stations offshore of it. In waters associated with the California Current not impacted by upwelling, Synechococcus abundance increased with increasing bulk chlorophyll. In contrast, Synechococcus abundance declined with increasing bulk chlorophyll at stations that were impacted by upwelling. Synechococcus at stations impacted by upwelling also had more phycoerythrin per cell than at non-upwelling stations. Offshore of the California Current, Synechococcus cells in waters intruding from the Central North Pacific displayed higher side-scatter relative to forward scatter than did Synechococcus cells elsewhere in the region. Flow cytometrically distinct Synechococcus cell types were also detected below the thermocline at most of the stations where depth profiles were analyzed. These patterns in Synechococcus abundance and cellular characteristics might reflect physiological and/or genetic differences among Synechococcus associated with the various water masses that comprise the CalCOFI region. The data presented here provide a framework from which to launch more detailed and mechanistic studies examining the role of Synechococcus in the CalCOFI ecosystem. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Dyhrman, ST, Palenik B.  2001.  A single-cell immunoassay for phosphate stress in the dinoflagellate Prorocentrum minimum (Dinophyceae). Journal of Phycology. 37:400-410.   10.1046/j.1529-8817.2001.037003400.x   AbstractWebsite

Current techniques for studying phytoplankton physiology in the field, such as measurements of biochemical activities, nutrient addition bioassays, and determination of photosynthetic efficiency, are useful for assessing the physiology of the bulk community but suffer from a lack of specificity. This would be improved by the development of single-cell methods for monitoring in situ physiology, Here we develop and test an antibody-based assay for identifying phosphate stress in the model dinoflagellate Prorocentrum minimum (Pavillard) Schiller, Antiserum was raised against a cell-surface alkaline phosphatase purified from P, minimum. Western screening indicated that the antiserum reacted with phosphate-stressed cells but not nitrate-stressed or phosphate-replete cells in culture. Immunodepletion confirmed the identification of this protein as an alkaline phosphatase, Based on Western blots, the antiserum appeared to be specific for phosphate-regulated proteins in P, minimum because there is no discernible cross-reaction with closely related P, micans. A whole-cell immunofluorescence assay was used to identify phosphate stress in field populations of P, minimum from Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. The percentage of labeled P, minimum cells in this environment during the summer of 1998 decreased through time as the inorganic phosphate concentration increased. The percentage of antibody-labeled cells significantly correlated with the percentage of ELF-97-labeled cells determined as another single-cell assay of phosphate stress. This is the first antibody-based method developed for monitoring cell-specific physiology in a dinoflagellate, and the method described here may serve as a model for developing similar tools in other species of phytoplankton.

Palenik, B.  2001.  Chromatic adaptation in marine Synechococcus strains. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 67:991-994.   10.1128/aem.67.2.991-994.2001   AbstractWebsite

Characterization of two genetically distinct groups of marine Synechococcus sp. strains shows that one, but not the other, increases its phycourobilin/phycoerythrobilin chromophore ratio when growing in blue light. This ability of at least some marine Synechococcus strains to chromatically adapt may help explain their greater abundance in particular ocean environments than cyanobacteria of the genus Prochlorococcus.

Dyhrman, ST, Palenik B.  1999.  Phosphate stress in cultures and field populations of the dinoflagellate Prorucentrum minimum detected by a single-cell alkaline phosphatase assay. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 65:3205-3212. AbstractWebsite

Alkaline phosphatase activity is a common marker of phosphate stress in many phytoplankton, but it has been difficult to attribute alkaline phosphatase activity to specific organisms or groups of phytoplankton in the field with traditional biochemical procedures, A ne cv alkaline phosphatase substrate, ELF-97 (enzyme-labeled fluorescence), shows promise in this regard. When a phosphate group is cleaved from the ELF-97 reagent, the remaining molecule precipitates near the site of enzyme activity, thus fluorescently tagging cells with alkaline phosphatase activity. We characterized ELF-97 labeling in axenic cultures of a common dinoflagellate, Prorocentrum minimum, in order to understand ELF-97 labeling dynamics when phosphate nutrition varies. Enzyme activity, as detected by ELF-97 labeling, appears to be induced in late-log- or early-stationary-phase cultures if cells are grown in low-phosphate media and is lost when phosphate-stressed cells are refed with phosphate, ELF-97 appears to label an inducible intracellular alkaline phosphatase in P, minimum based on confocal microscopy studies. This may limit the use of this reagent to organisms that lack high levels of constitutive intracellular phosphatases, After laboratory cultures were characterized, ELF-97 was used to assay field populations of P, minimum in Narragansett Bay during two 1-week periods, and 12 to 100% of the P. minimum cells were labeled. The level of cell labeling was reduced by 3 days of incubation with added inorganic phosphate. Our results indicate that ELF-97 is an excellent new tool for monitoring phytoplankton phosphate stress in the environment when the data are supported by appropriate laboratory studies.

Collier, JL, Brahamsha B, Palenik B.  1999.  The marine cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. WH7805 requires urease (urea amidohydrolase, EC to utilize urea as a nitrogen source: molecular-genetic and biochemical analysis of the enzyme. Microbiology-Sgm. 145:447-459.   10.1099/13500872-145-2-447   AbstractWebsite

Cyanobacteria assigned to the genus Synechococcus are an important component of oligotrophic marine ecosystems, where their growth may be constrained by low availability of fixed nitrogen. Urea appears to be a major nitrogen resource in the sea, but little molecular information exists about its utilization by marine organisms, including Synechococcus. Oligonucleotide primers were used to amplify a conserved fragment of the urease (urea amidohydrolase, EC coding region from cyanobacteria. A 5.7 kbp region of the genome of the unicellular marine cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. strain WH7805 was then cloned, and genes encoding three urease structural subunits and four urease accessory proteins were sequenced and identified by homology. The WH7805 urease had a predicted subunit composition typical of bacterial ureases, but the organization of the WH7805 urease genes was unique. Biochemical characteristics of the WH7805 urease enzyme were consistent with the predictions of the sequence data. Physiological data and sequence analysis both suggested that the urease operon may be nitrogen-regulated by the ntcA system in WH7805. Inactivation of the large subunit of urease, ureC, prevented WH7805 and Synechococcus WH8102 from growing on urea, demonstrating that the urease genes cloned are essential to the ability of these cyanobacteria to utilize urea as a nitrogen source.

Toledo, G, Palenik B, Brahamsha B.  1999.  Swimming marine Synechococcus strains with widely different photosynthetic pigment ratios form a monophyletic group. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 65:5247-5251. AbstractWebsite

Unicellular marine cyanobacteria are ubiquitous in both coastal and oligotrophic regimes. The contribution of these organisms to primary production and nutrient cycling is substantial on a global scale. Natural populations of marine Synechococcus strains include multiple genetic lineages, but the link, if any, between unique phenotypic traits and specific genetic groups is still not understood. We studied the genetic diversity (as determined by the DNA-dependent RNA polymerase rpoC1 gene sequence) of a set of marine Synechococcus isolates that are able to swim, Our results show that these isolates form a monophyletic group. This finding represents the first example of correspondence between a physiological trait and a phylogenetic group in marine Synechococcus. In contrast, the phycourobilin (PUB)/phycoerythrobilin (PEB) pigment ratios of members of the motile clade varied considerably. An isolate obtained from the California Current (strain CC9703) displayed a pigment signature identical to that of nonmotile strain WH7803, which is considered a model for low-PUB/PEB-ratio strains, whereas several motile strains had higher PUB/PEB ratios than strain WH8103, which is considered a model for high-PUB/PEB-ratio strains. These findings indicate that the PUB/FEB pigment ratio is not a useful characteristic for defining phylogenetic groups of marine Synechococcus strains.

Palenik, B, Toledo G, Ferris M.  1999.  Cyanobacterial diversity in marine ecosystems as seen by RNA polymerase (rpoC1) gene sequences. Bulletin de l'Institut Oceanographique (Monaco). :101-105. AbstractWebsite