Chemical microenvironments and single-cell carbon and nitrogen uptake in field-collected colonies of Trichodesmium under different pCO2

Gradients of oxygen (O2) and pH, as well as small-scale fluxes of carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and O2 were investigated under different partial pressures of carbon dioxide (pCO2) in field-collected colonies of the marine dinitrogen (N2)-fixing cyanobacterium Trichodesmium. Microsensor measurements indicated that cells within colonies experienced large fluctuations in O2, pH and CO2 concentrations over a day-night cycle. O2 concentrations varied with light intensity and time of day, yet colonies exposed to light were supersaturated with O2(up to ~200%) throughout the light period and anoxia was not detected. Alternating between light and dark conditions caused a variation in pH levels by on average 0.5 units (equivalent to 15 nmol l-1 proton concentration). Single-cell analyses of C and N assimilation using secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS; large geometry SIMS and nanoscale SIMS) revealed high variability in metabolic activity of single cells and trichomes of Trichodesmium, and indicated transfer of C and N to colony-associated non-photosynthetic bacteria. Neither O2 fluxes nor C fixation by Trichodesmium were significantly influenced by short-term incubations under different pCO2 levels, whereas N2 fixation increased with increasing pCO2. The large range of metabolic rates observed at the single-cell level may reflect a response by colony-forming microbial populations to highly variable microenvironments.

Eichner M. J., Klawonn I., Wilson S. T., Littmann S., Whitehouse M. J., Church M. J., Kuypers M. M., Karl D. M. & Ploug H., 2017. Chemical microenvironments and single-cell carbon and nitrogen uptake in field-collected colonies of Trichodesmium under different pCO2. ISME Journal 11(6):1305-1317. Article (subscription required).

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