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Hogle, SL, Dupont CL, Hopkinson BM, King AL, Buck KN, Roe KL, Stuart RK, Allen AE, Mann EL, Johnson ZI, Barbeau KA.  2018.  Pervasive iron limitation at subsurface chlorophyll maxima of the California Current. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 115:13300-13305.   10.1073/pnas.1813192115   AbstractWebsite

Subsurface chlorophyll maximum layers (SCMLs) are nearly ubiquitous in stratified water columns and exist at horizontal scales ranging from the submesoscale to the extent of oligotrophic gyres. These layers of heightened chlorophyll and/or phytoplankton concentrations are generally thought to be a consequence of a balance between light energy from above and a limiting nutrient flux from below, typically nitrate (NO3). Here we present multiple lines of evidence demonstrating that iron (Fe) limits or with light colimits phytoplankton communities in SCMLs along a primary productivity gradient from coastal to oligotrophic offshore waters in the southern California Current ecosystem. SCML phytoplankton responded markedly to added Fe or Fe/light in experimental incubations and transcripts of diatom and picoeukaryote Fe stress genes were strikingly abundant in SCML metatranscriptomes. Using a biogeochemical proxy with data from a 40-y time series, we find that diatoms growing in California Current SCMLs are persistently Fe deficient during the spring and summer growing season. We also find that the spatial extent of Fe deficiency within California Current SCMLs has significantly increased over the last 25 y in line with a regional climate index. Finally, we show that diatom Fe deficiency may be common in the subsurface of major upwelling zones worldwide. Our results have important implications for our understanding of the biogeochemical consequences of marine SCML formation and maintenance.

McQuaid, JB, Kustka AB, Obornik M, Horak A, McCrow JR, Karas BJ, Zheng H, Kindeberg T, Andersson AJ, Barbeau KA, Allen AE.  2018.  Carbonate-sensitive phytotransferrin controls high-affinity iron uptake in diatoms. Nature. 555:534-537.   10.1038/nature25982   AbstractWebsite

In vast areas of the ocean, the scarcity of iron controls the growth and productivity of phytoplankton(1,2). Although most dissolved iron in the marine environment is complexed with organic molecules(3), picomolar amounts of labile inorganic iron species (labile iron) are maintained within the euphotic zone(4) and serve as an important source of iron for eukaryotic phytoplankton and particularly for diatoms(5). Genome-enabled studies of labile iron utilization by diatoms have previously revealed novel iron responsive transcripts(6,7), including the ferric iron-concentrating protein ISIP2A(8), but the mechanism behind the acquisition of picomolar labile iron remains unknown. Here we show that ISIP2A is a phytotransferrin that independently and convergently evolved carbonate ion-coordinated ferric iron binding. Deletion of ISIP2A disrupts high-affinity iron uptake in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum, and uptake is restored by complementation with human transferrin. ISIP2A is internalized by endocytosis, and manipulation of the seawater carbonic acid system reveals a second order dependence on the concentrations of labile iron and carbonate ions. In P. tricornutum, the synergistic interaction of labile iron and carbonate ions occurs at environmentally relevant concentrations, revealing that carbonate availability co-limits iron uptake. Phytotransferrin sequences have a broad taxonomic distribution(8) and are abundant in marine environmental genomic datasets(9,10), suggesting that acidification-driven declines in the concentration of seawater carbonate ions will have a negative effect on this globally important eukaryotic iron acquisition mechanism.

Semeniuk, DM, Taylor RL, Bundy RM, Johnson WK, Cullen JT, Robert M, Barbeau KA, Maldonado MT.  2016.  Iron-copper interactions in iron-limited phytoplankton in the northeast subarctic Pacific Ocean. Limnology and Oceanography. 61:279-297.   10.1002/lno.10210   AbstractWebsite

In August 2010, iron (Fe) and Fe and copper (Cu) addition incubation experiments were conducted at two low Fe stations (P20 and P26) along Line P, off the western coast of British Columbia, to investigate Cu physiology in Fe- and Fe-light co-limited phytoplankton. Chlorophyll a concentrations ([Chl a]), maximum variable fluorescence yield (F-v/F-m), and Fe uptake rates by the Cu-dependent high-affinity Fe transport system (HAFeTS) were measured. Additions of Fe resulted in an increase in [Chl a] and F-v/F-m at both stations compared with the controls, regardless of light availability, and confirmed that the phytoplankton communities were Fe-limited. Uptake of Fe by the HAFeTS in both incubations increased with the addition of Fe, and likely reflects luxury Fe uptake and storage. While the in situ inorganic Cu concentrations were similar to those that can induce Cu-limitation in laboratory cultures, increasing Cu availability had no effect on biomass accumulation during both incubations, regardless of Fe availability or light regime. At P26, additions of 1 nmol L-1 CuSO4 resulted in a short-term increase in F-v/F-m of the phytoplankton community, and an increase in Fe uptake rates by large phytoplankton (>5 mu m), but only when light was not limiting. These data confirm a complex interaction between light, Fe and Cu physiology in indigenous phytoplankton communities, and suggest that these interactions may be both spatially heterogeneous and different for different phytoplankton size classes.

Hopkinson, BM, Seegers B, Hatta M, Measures CI, Mitchell BG, Barbeau KA.  2013.  Planktonic C:Fe ratios and carrying capacity in the southern Drake Passage. Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography. 90:102-111.   10.1016/j.dsr2.2012.09.001   AbstractWebsite

The carbon to iron (C:Fe) ratio of planktonic biomass constrains net production in iron-limited regions of the ocean and is an important parameter for predicting biomass production from iron inputs. On a cruise to the southern Drake Passage in July-August 2006, we used two approaches to determine the C:Fe ratio of planktonic material: dual-radiotracer labeling and net biomass production in iron-limited grow-out experiments. There was variability in C:Fe ratios among experiments, but values from the two methods overlapped with average values of 1.4 x 10(5) (mol:mol) for the radiotracer method and 1.7 x 10(5) for the net biomass production method. This is notable since the net biomass production method is a new approach to determine C:Fe ratios. Although it has potential issues related to bottle effects and sensitivity to trace contamination, the method avoids some of the questions associated with iron speciation and bioavailability since ambient iron supports production. Because light intensity is known to affect C:Fe ratios in phytoplankton through photosynthetic iron demands, we tested the effect of light level on C:Fe in Antarctic assemblages. In contrast to what is seen in many phytoplankton cultures, C:Fe ratios increased at low-light, but we suspect that this is due to initial photoinhibition of the low-light adapted winter assemblages at higher light levels. (c) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Jiang, MS, Barbeau KA, Selph KE, Measures CI, Buck KN, Azam F, Mitchell BG, Zhou M.  2013.  The role of organic ligands in iron cycling and primary productivity in the Antarctic Peninsula: A modeling study. Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography. 90:112-133.   10.1016/j.dsr2.2013.01.029   AbstractWebsite

Iron (Fe) is the limiting nutrient for primary productivity in the Southern Ocean, with much of the dissolved iron (dFe) bound to organic ligands or colloids. A Fe model for the Southern Ocean (SOFe) is developed to understand the role of bacteria and organic ligands in controlling Fe cycling and productivity. The model resolves the classical food web and microbial loop, including three types of nutrients (N, Si, Fe) and two types of Fe ligands. Simulations of the zero-dimensional (0-D) model are calibrated with detailed results of shipboard grow-out incubation experiments conducted with Antarctic Peninsula phytoplankton communities during winter 2006 to provide the best estimate of key biological parameters. Then a one-dimensional (1-D) model is developed by coupling the biological model with the Regional Oceanic Modeling System (ROMS) for a site on the Antarctic Peninsula shelf, and the model parameters are further calibrated with data collected from two surveys (summer 2004 and winter 2006) in the area. The results of the numerical simulations agree reasonably well with observations. An analysis of the 1-D model results suggests that bacteria and organic ligands may play an important role in Fe cycling, which can be categorized into a relatively fast mode within the euphotic zone dominated by photo-reactions (summer d Fe residence time about 600 days) and complexation and a slow mode below with most of the dFe biologically complexed (summer dFe residence time > 10 years). The dFe removal from the euphotic zone is dominated by colloidal formation and further aggregations with additional contribution from biological uptake, and an increase of organic ligands would reduce Fe export. The decrease of Fe removal rate over depth is due to the continuous dissolution and remineralization of particulate Fe. A number of sensitivity experiments are carried out for both O-D and 1-D models to understand the importance of photo-reactive processes in primary productivity, bacterial activity, Fe speciation, and dFe residence time within the euphotic zone. The bio-availability of ligand-bound Fe (FeL) is critical to modeled high primary productivity, which is consistent with both shipboard measurements and field observations. In addition, model productivity is sensitive to photoreaction rates if FeL is not directly available for phytoplankton uptake. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Bundy, RM, Barbeau KA, Buck KN.  2013.  Sources of strong copper-binding ligands in Antarctic Peninsula surface waters. Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography. 90:134-146.   10.1016/j.dsr2.2012.07.023   AbstractWebsite

Copper-binding organic ligands were measured during austral winter in surface waters around the Antarctic Peninsula using competitive ligand exchange-adsorptive cathodic stripping voltammetry with multiple analytical windows. Samples were collected from four distinct water masses including the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, Southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current Front, Bransfield Strait, and the shelf region of the Antarctic Peninsula. Strong copper-binding organic ligands were detected in each water mass. The strongest copper-binding ligands were detected at the highest competition strength in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, with an average conditional stability constant of logK(CuL,Cu2+)(cond) = 16.00 +/- 0.82. The weakest ligands were found at the lowest competition strength in the shelf region with logK(CuL,Cu2+)(cond) = 12.68 +/- 0.48. No ligands with stability constants less than logK(CuL,Cu2+)(cond) = 13.5 were detected in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current at any competition strength, suggesting a shelf source of weaker copper-binding ligands. Free, hydrated copper ion concentrations, the biologically available form of dissolved copper, were less than 10(-14) M in all samples, approaching levels that may be limiting for some types of inducible iron acquisition. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Hopkinson, BM, Barbeau KA.  2008.  Interactive influences of iron and light limitation on phytoplankton at subsurface chlorophyll maxima in the eastern North Pacific. Limnology and Oceanography. 53:1303-1318.   10.4319/lo.2008.53.4.1303   AbstractWebsite

The roles of iron and light as limiting and colimiting factors for phytoplankton growth in subsurface chlorophyll maxima (SCMs) were investigated in mesotrophic to oligotrophic waters of the Southern California Bight and the eastern tropical North Pacific using microcosm manipulation experiments. Phytoplankton responses indicative of iron-light colimitation were found at several SCMs underlying macronutrient-limited surface waters in the eastern Pacific. Iron additions led to a shift in the size and taxonomic structure of the phytoplankton community, where large diatoms dominated what was formerly a diverse community of relatively small phytoplankton. The strongest and most ubiquitous responses of diatoms to iron addition were found under elevated light conditions, indicating that iron availability may have the greatest potential to affect SCM phytoplankton communities when light levels increase rapidly, such as during eddy events or with strong internal waves. The results show that iron influences phytoplankton community structure at SCMs, which would have consequences for nutrient cycling and carbon export within the lower euphotic zone.

Barbeau, K.  2006.  Photochemistry of organic iron(III) complexing ligands in oceanic systems. Photochemistry and Photobiology. 82:1505-1516.   10.1562/2006-06-16-ir-935   AbstractWebsite

Iron is a limiting nutrient for primary production in marine systems, and photochemical processes play a significant role in the upper ocean biogeochemical cycling of this key element. In recent years, progress has been made toward understanding the role of biologically produced organic ligands in controlling the speciation and photochemical redox cycling of iron in ocean surface waters. Most (> 99%) of the dissolved iron in seawater is now known to be associated with strong organic ligands. New data concerning the structure and photochemical reactivity of strong Fe(III) binding ligands (siderophores) produced by pelagic marine bacteria suggest that direct photolysis via ligand-to-metal charge transfer reactions may be an important mechanism for the production of reduced, biologically available iron (Fe[II]) in surface waters. Questions remain, however, about the importance of these processes relative to secondary photochemical reactions with photochemically produced radical species, such as superoxide (O-2(-))The mechanism of superoxide-mediated reduction of Fe(III) in the presence of strong Fe(III) organic ligands is also open to debate. This review highlights recent findings, including both model ligand studies and experimental/observational studies of the natural seawater ligand pool.