Everything is everywhere: physiological responses of the Mediterranean sea and Eastern Pacific ocean Epiphyte Cobetia Sp. to varying nutrient concentration

Bacteria are essential in the maintenance and sustainment of marine environments (e.g., benthic systems), playing a key role in marine food webs and nutrient cycling. These microorganisms can live associated as epiphytic or endophytic populations with superior organisms with valuable ecological functions, e.g., seagrasses. Here, we isolated, identified, sequenced, and exposed two strains of the same species (i.e., identified as Cobetia sp.) from two different marine environments to different nutrient regimes using batch cultures: (1) Cobetia sp. UIB 001 from the endemic Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica and (2) Cobetia sp. 4B UA from the endemic Humboldt Current System (HCS) seagrass Heterozostera chilensis. From our physiological studies, both strains behaved as bacteria capable to cope with different nutrient and pH regimes, i.e., N, P, and Fe combined with different pH levels, both in long-term (12 days (d)) and short-term studies (4 d/96 h (h)). We showed that the isolated strains were sensitive to the N source (inorganic and organic) at low and high concentrations and low pH levels. Low availability of phosphorus (P) and Fe had a negative independent effect on growth, especially in the long-term studies. The strain UIB 001 showed a better adaptation to low nutrient concentrations, being a potential N2-fixer, reaching higher growth rates (μ) than the HCS strain. P-acquisition mechanisms were deeply investigated at the enzymatic (i.e., alkaline phosphatase activity, APA) and structural level (e.g., alkaline phosphatase D, PhoD). Finally, these results were complemented with the study of biochemical markers, i.e., reactive oxygen species (ROS). In short, we present how ecological niches (i.e., MS and HCS) might determine, select, and modify the genomic and phenotypic features of the same bacterial species (i.e., Cobetia spp.) found in different marine environments, pointing to a direct correlation between adaptability and oligotrophy of seawater.

Fernández-Juárez V., Jaén-Luchoro D., Brito-Echeverría J., Agawin N. S. R., Bennasar-Figueras A. & Echeveste P., in press. Everything is everywhere: physiological responses of the Mediterranean sea and Eastern Pacific ocean Epiphyte Cobetia Sp. to varying nutrient concentration. Microbial Ecology. Article (subscription required).

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