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Journal Article
Roe, KL, Barbeau K, Mann EL, Haygood MG.  2012.  Acquisition of iron by Trichodesmium and associated bacteria in culture. Environmental Microbiology. 14:1681-1695.   10.1111/j.1462-2920.2011.02653.x   AbstractWebsite

Trichodesmium colonies contain an abundant microbial consortium that is likely to play a role in nutrient cycling within the colony. This study used laboratory cultures of Trichodesmium and two genome-sequenced strains of bacteria typical of Trichodesmium-associated microbes to develop an understanding of the cycling of iron, a potentially limiting micronutrient, within Trichodesmium colonies. We found that the ferric siderophores desferrioxamine B and aerobactin were not readily bioavailable to Trichodesmium, relative to ferric chloride or citrate-associated iron. In contrast, the representative bacterial strains we studied were able to acquire iron from all of the iron sources, implying that naturally occurring Trichodesmium-associated bacteria may be capable of utilizing a more diverse array of iron sources than Trichodesmium. From the organism-specific uptake data collected in this study, a theoretical Trichodesmium colony was designed to model whole colony iron uptake. The bacteria accounted for most (> 70%) of the iron acquired by the colony, highlighting the importance of determining organism-specific uptake in a complex environment. Our findings suggest that, although they may share the same micro-environment, Trichodesmium and its colony-associated microbial cohort may differ substantially in terms of iron acquisition strategy.

Semeniuk, DM, Bundy RM, Payne CD, Barbeau KA, Maldonado MT.  2015.  Acquisition of organically complexed copper by marine phytoplankton and bacteria in the northeast subarctic Pacific Ocean. Marine Chemistry. 173:222-233.   10.1016/j.marchem.2015.01.005   AbstractWebsite

Copper (Cu) is an essential micronutrient for marine phytoplankton, but can cause toxicity at elevated intracellular concentrations. The majority of Cu (>99.9%) in oceanic surface waters is bound to strong organic ligands, presumably produced by prokaryotes to detoxify Cu. Although laboratory studies have demonstrated that organically complexed Cu may be bioavailable to marine eukaryotic phytoplankton, the bioavailability of Cu organic complexes to indigenous marine phytoplankton has not been examined in detail. Using the carrier free radioisotope Cu-67 at an iron limited station in the northeast subarctic Pacific Ocean, we performed size fractionated short-term Cu uptake assays with three Cu(II)-chelates, and Cu-67 bound to the strong in situ ligands, with or without additions of weak Cu(I) ligands. Estimates of the maximum supply of inorganic Cu (Cu') to the cell surface of eukaryotic phytoplankton were unable to account for the observed Cu uptake rates from the in situ ligands and two of the three added Cu(II)-chelates. Addition of 10 nM weak organic Cu(I) ligands enhanced uptake of Cu bound to the in situ ligands. Thus, Cu within the in situ and strong artificial Cu(II) organic ligands was accessible to the phytoplankton community via various possible Cu uptake strategies, including; cell surface enzymatically mediated reduction of Cu(II) to Cu(I), the substrate of the high-affinity Cu transport system in eukaryotes; or ligand exchange between weak Cu-binding ligands and the cellular Cu transporters. During a 14-hour uptake assay, particulate Cu concentrations reached a plateau in most treatments. Losses were observed in some treatments, especially in the small size fractions (<5 mu m), corresponding with faster initial Cu uptake rates. This may indicate that Cu cycling is rapid between particulate and dissolved phases due to cellular efflux or remineralization by micrograzers. The acquisition of Cu from the strong in situ ligands puts into question the historic role attributed to Cu binding ligands in decreasing Cu bioavailability. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Ohman, MD, Barbeau K, Franks PJS, Goericke R, Landry MR, Miller AJ.  2013.  Ecological transitions in a coastal upwelling ecosystem. Oceanography. 26:210-219. AbstractWebsite

The southern California Current Ecosystem (CCE) is a dynamic eastern boundary current ecosystem that is forced by ocean-atmosphere variability on interannual, multidecadal, and long-term secular time scales. Recent evidence suggests that apparent abrupt transitions in ecosystem conditions reflect linear tracking of the physical environment rather than oscillations between alternative preferred states. A space-for-time exchange is one approach that permits use of natural spatial variability in the CCE to develop a mechanistic understanding needed to project future temporal changes. The role of (sub)mesoscale frontal systems in altering rates of nutrient transport, primary and secondary production, export fluxes, and the rates of encounters between predators and prey is an issue central to this pelagic ecosystem and its future trajectory because the occurrence of such frontal features is increasing.

Brzezinski, MA, Krause JW, Bundy RM, Barbeau KA, Franks P, Goericke R, Landry MR, Stukel MR.  2015.  Enhanced silica ballasting from iron stress sustains carbon export in a frontal zone within the California Current. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 120:4654-4669.   10.1002/2015jc010829   AbstractWebsite

Nutrient dynamics, phytoplankton rate processes, and export were examined in a frontal region between an anticyclone and a pair of cyclones 120 km off the coast in the southern California Current System (sCCS). Low silicic acid: nitrate ratios (Si:N) and high nitrate to iron ratios (N: Fe) characteristic of Fe-limiting conditions in the sCCS were associated with the northern cyclone and with the transition zone between the cyclones and the anticyclone. Phytoplankton growth in low-Si:N, high-N:Fe waters responded strongly to added Fe, confirming growth limitation by Fe of the diatom-dominated phytoplankton community. Low Si: N waters had low biogenic silica content, intermediate productivity, but high export compared to intermediate Si: N waters indicating increased export efficiency under Fe stress. Biogenic silica and particulate organic carbon (POC) export were both high beneath low Si: N waters with biogenic silica export being especially enhanced. This suggests that relatively high POC export from low Si: N waters was supported by silica ballasting from Fe-limited diatoms. Higher POC export efficiency in low Si: N waters may have been further enhanced by lower rates of organic carbon remineralization due to reduced grazing of more heavily armored diatoms growing under Fe stress. The results imply that Fe stress can enhance carbon export, despite lowering productivity, by driving higher export efficiency.

King, AL, Barbeau K.  2007.  Evidence for phytoplankton iron limitation in the southern California Current System. Marine Ecology-Progress Series. 342:91-103.   10.3354/meps342091   AbstractWebsite

Observations of phytoplankton iron limitation in the world's oceans have primarily been confined to high-nutrient, low-chlorophyll (HNLC) regimes, found in the western equatorial and subarctic Pacific, Southern Ocean, and coastal upwelling zones off California and Peru. We investigated the potential for phytoplankton iron limitation in coastal transition zones (50 to 200 km offshore) of the southern California Current System, a weak upwelling regime that is relatively low in nutrients (< 4 mu mol nitrate 1(-1)) and low in chlorophyll (< 1 mu g chl a 1(-1)). In grow-out incubation experiments conducted during summer, July 2003 and 2004, phytoplankton responded to nanomolar iron additions, despite the non-HNLC initial conditions, Observed changes in phytoplankton and nutrient parameters upon iron addition were significant, although markedly lower in amplitude relative to typical grow-out experiments in HNLC regimes. While we cannot disprove alternate explanations for the observed limitation of phytoplankton growth, such as a proximate grazing control, our results indicate that phytoplankton growth in the southern California Current System is, at times, limited by the supply of iron. Based on our findings and the results of previous studies in this region, we suggest that phytoplankton biomass is generally limited by the supply of nitrate, while iron, directly or indirectly, influences macronutrient utilization, community species composition, and phytoplankton spatial and temporal distribution.

Hogle, SL, Barbeau KA, Gledhill M.  2014.  Heme in the marine environment: from cells to the iron cycle. Metallomics. 6:1107-1120.   10.1039/c4mt00031e   AbstractWebsite

Hemes are iron containing heterocyclic molecules important in many cellular processes. In the marine environment, hemes participate as enzymatic cofactors in biogeochemically significant processes like photosynthesis, respiration, and nitrate assimilation. Further, hemoproteins, hemes, and their analogs appear to be iron sources for some marine bacterioplankton under certain conditions. Current oceanographic analytical methodologies allow for the extraction and measurement of heme b from marine material, and a handful of studies have begun to examine the distribution of heme b in ocean basins. The study of heme in the marine environment is still in its infancy, but some trends can be gleaned from the work that has been published so far. In this review, we summarize what is known or might be inferred about the roles of heme in marine microbes as well as the few studies on heme in the marine environment that have been conducted to date. We conclude by presenting some future questions and challenges for the field.

Hopkinson, BM, Roe KL, Barbeau KA.  2008.  Heme uptake by Microscilla marina and evidence for heme uptake systems in the genomes of diverse marine bacteria. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 74:6263-6270.   10.1128/aem.00964-08   AbstractWebsite

The ability to acquire diverse and abundant forms of iron would be expected to confer a survival advantage in the marine environment, where iron is scarce. Marine bacteria are known to use siderophores and inorganic iron, but their ability to use heme, an abundant intracellular iron form, has only been examined preliminarily. Microscilla marina, a cultured relative of a bacterial group frequently found on marine particulates, was used as a model organism to examine heme uptake. Searches of the genome revealed analogs to known heme transport proteins, and reverse transcription-quantitative PCR analysis of these genes showed that they were expressed and upregulated under iron stress and during growth on heme. M. marina was found to take up heme-bound iron and could grow on heme as a sole iron source, supporting the genetic evidence for heme transport. Similar putative heme transport components were identified in the genomes of diverse marine bacteria. These systems were found in the genomes of many bacteria thought to be particle associated but were lacking in known free-living organisms (e.g., Pelagibacter ubique and marine cyanobacteria). This distribution of transporters is consistent with the hydrophobic, light-sensitive nature of heme, suggesting that it is primarily available on phytoplankton or detritus or in nutrient-rich environments.

Barbeau, K, Moffett JW.  2000.  Laboratory and field studies of colloidal iron oxide dissolution as mediated by phagotrophy and photolysis. Limnology and Oceanography. 45:827-835. AbstractWebsite

In a previous work, we have employed colloidal ferrihydrite impregnated with an inert radiotracer to probe the mechanistics of iron redox cycling in seawater via phagotrophic and photochemical processes. This paper reports further studies using the inert tracer technique, directed towards obtaining a more quantitative sense of the importance of phagotrophy relative to photolysis as a pathway for the production of bioavailable iron in oxygenated seawater. Our results indicate a maximal (i.e., near-surface at noon) rate of 12% per day for the photochemically-mediated dissolution of colloidal ferrihydrite. Protozoan-mediated dissolution of the same iron oxide phase proceeds at a rate ranging from 1-6% per day, depending on grazing turnover rates. Thus, while photolysis should dominate the redox cycling of refractory iron solids in near-surface waters under bright daytime conditions, phagotrophy is likely to be a more important process overall when the entire euphotic zone is considered on a time-averaged basis.

Landry, MR, Ohman MD, Goericke R, Stukel MR, Barbeau KA, Bundy R, Kahru M.  2012.  Pelagic community responses to a deep-water front in the California Current Ecosystem: overview of the A-Front Study. Journal of Plankton Research. 34:739-748.   10.1093/plankt/fbs025   AbstractWebsite

In October 2008, we investigated pelagic community composition and biomass, from bacteria to fish, across a sharp frontal gradient overlying deep waters south of Point Conception, California. This northsouth gradient, which we called A-Front, was formed by the eastward flow of the California Current and separated cooler mesotrophic waters of coastal upwelling origin to the north, from warm oligotrophic waters of likely mixed subarcticsubtropical origin to the south. Plankton biomass and phytoplankton growth rates were two to three times greater on the northern side, and primary production rates were elevated 5-fold to the north. Compared with either of the adjacent waters, the frontal interface was strongly enriched and uniquely defined by a subsurface bloom of large diatoms, elevated concentrations of suspension-feeding zooplankton, high bioacoustical estimates of pelagic fish and enhanced bacterial production and phytoplankton biomass and photosynthetic potential. Such habitats, though small in areal extent, may contribute disproportionately and importantly to regional productivity, nutrient cycling, carbon fluxes and trophic ecology. As a general introduction to the A-Front study, we provide an overview of its design and implementation, a brief summary of major findings and a discussion of potential mechanisms of plankton enrichment at the front.

King, AL, Buck KN, Barbeau KA.  2012.  Quasi-Lagrangian drifter studies of iron speciation and cycling off Point Conception, California. Marine Chemistry. 128:1-12.   10.1016/j.marchem.2011.11.001   AbstractWebsite

The distribution and speciation of dissolved Fe (dFe) were measured during four quasi-Lagrangian drogued drifter studies (similar to 4 d duration each) that were conducted in the southern California Current System in May 2006 and April 2007. Three of the four drifter studies were within the coastal upwelling regime and one drifter study was in a warm-core anticyclonic eddy. Incubation bottle experiments were also conducted to determine the degree of phytoplankton Fe limitation and to assess changes in the concentration of Fe-binding ligands. In the coastal upwelling drifter studies, in situ dFe (1.4-1.8 nM) and macronutrients were initially high and declined over time. Fe addition incubation experiments indicated that the phytoplankton community was not Fe limited at the beginning of the coastal upwelling drifter experiments (when mu M nitrate:nM dFe ratios were similar to 7-8). By the end of two of the three drifter studies (when mu M nitrate:nM dFe ratios were similar to 12-19), Fe addition resulted in larger nitrate and silicic acid drawdown, and larger accumulations in chlorophyll a, particulate organic carbon and nitrogen, and diatom and dinoflagellate-specific carotenoid pigments. Fe speciation was measured in situ in three of the four drifter studies with stronger L-1-type ligands found to be present in excess of dFe in all samples. In Fe speciation incubation experiments. L-1-type ligand production was observed in conjunction with phytoplankton growth under Fe-limiting conditions. The results presented here support and add a quasi-Lagrangian perspective to previous observations of dFe and macronutrient cycling over space and time within the California coastal upwelling regime, including Fe limitation within the phytoplankton community in this region and the biological production of Fe-binding ligands concomitant with Fe limitation. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. 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.

Roe, KL, Hogle SL, Barbeau KA.  2013.  Utilization of heme as an iron source by marine alphaproteobacteria in the roseobacter clade. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 79:5753-5762.   10.1128/aem.01562-13   AbstractWebsite

The bioavailability and utilization of porphyrin-bound iron, specifically heme, by marine microorganisms have rarely been examined. This study used Ruegeria sp. strain TrichCH4B as a model organism to study heme acquisition by a member of the Roseobacter clade. Analogs of known heme transporter proteins were found within the Ruegeria sp. TrichCH4B genome. The identified heme uptake and utilization system appears to be functional, as the heme genes were upregulated under iron stress, the bacterium could grow on ferric-porphyrin complexes as the sole iron source, and internalization of(55) Fe from ferric protoporphyrin IX was observed. The potential ability to utilize heme in the Roseobacter clade appears to be common, as half of the isolates in the RoseoBase database were found to have a complete heme uptake system. A degenerate primer set was designed and successfully used to identify the putative heme oxygenase gene (hmus) in the roseobacter heme uptake system from diverse nonenriched marine environments. This study found that members of the Roseobacter clade are capable of utilizing heme as an iron source and that this capability may be present in all types of marine environments. The results of this study add a new perspective to the current picture of iron cycling in marine systems, whereby relatively refractory intracellular pools of heme-bound iron may be taken up quickly and directly reincorporated into living bacteria without previous degradation or the necessity of a siderophore intermediate.