Characterizing cobalamin cycling by Antarctic marine microbes across multiple scales
Author(s)Rao, Deepa,Ph.D.Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Michael J. Follows.
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Highly productive marine microbial communities in the coastal Southern Ocean sustain the broader Antarctic ecosystem and play a key role in Earth's climate via the biological pump. Regional phytoplankton growth is primarily limited by iron and co-limited by cobalamin (vitamin B₁₂), a trace cobalt-containing organometallic compound only synthesized by some bacteria and archaea. These micronutrients impact primary production and the microbial ecology of the two keystone phytoplankton types: diatoms and Phaeocystis antarctica. This thesis investigates microbe-driven cobalamin cycling in Antarctic seas across multiple spatiotemporal scales. I conducted laboratory culture experiments with complementary proteomics and transcriptomics to investigate the B₁₂-ecophysiology of P. antarctica strain CCMP 1871 morphotypes under iron-B₁₂ co-limitation.We observed colony formation under higher iron treatments, and a facultative use of B₁₂-dependent (MetH) and B₁₂-independent (MetE) methionine synthase isoforms in response to vitamin availability, demonstrating that this strain is not B₁₂-auxotrophic. Through comparative 'omics, we identified a putative MetE protein in P. antarctica abundant under low B₁₂, which is also found in other marine microbes. Across Antarctic seas, community-scale cobalt and B₁₂ uptake rates were measured by ⁵⁷Co radiotracer incubation experiments and integrated with hydrographic and phytoplankton pigment data. I observed significant correlations between uptake fluxes and environmental variables, providing evidence for predominantly diatom-driven uptake of these micronutrients in warmer, fresher surface waters with notable regional differences.To date, this work is the most comprehensive attempt to elucidate the processes governing the co-cycling of cobalt and B₁₂ in any marine system. At the ecosystem-scale, I developed and tested a hypothesis of micronutrient-driven community dynamics through a trait-based model with cross-feeding interactions. The model demonstrates how the observed seasonal succession of springtime P. antarctica from solitary to colonial cells, bacterioplankton, and summertime diatoms may be explained by the microbial cycling of iron, dissolved organic carbon, and B₁₂. Overall, this dissertation provides new information about the micronutrient-driven ecology of Antarctic marine microbes and adds to our understanding of the interconnections between organismal life cycle, trace metals, and trace organics in marine environments.
Thesis: Ph. D., Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences; and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), May, 2020Cataloged from the official PDF of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 161-183).
DepartmentJoint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering., Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences., Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.