Posts Tagged 'prokaryotes'

The microbiome of the octocoral Lobophytum pauciflorum: minor differences between sexes and resilience to short-term stress

Bacteria associated with marine invertebrates are thought to have a range of important roles that benefit the host including production of compounds that may exclude pathogenic microorganisms and recycling of essential nutrients. This study characterised the microbiome of a gonochoric octocoral, Lobophytum pauciflorum, and investigated whether either sex or environmental stresses influenced the diversity of the associated microbiome through amplicon profiling of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene. Sequences affiliated to Spirochaetaceae and Endozoicimonaceae dominated the microbiome of L. pauciflorum, representing 43% and 21% of the community, respectively. Among the dominant class affiliations, no sex-specific differences were detected, though unassigned sequences were at a 2-fold higher relative abundance in samples from female individuals than from males. These potentially novel sequences contributed to observed differences between sexes as detected by a multivariate analysis at the OTU level. Exposing L. pauciflorum fragments to increased temperature (31°C), decreased pH (7.9) or both stressors simultaneously for 12 days did not significantly alter the microbial community, indicating that the soft coral microbiome is relatively resilient to short-term environmental stress.

Continue reading ‘The microbiome of the octocoral Lobophytum pauciflorum: minor differences between sexes and resilience to short-term stress’

Microbiome dynamics in early life stages of the scleractinian coral Acropora gemmifera in response to elevated pCO2

Reef-building corals are complex holobionts, harbouring diverse microorganisms that play essential roles in maintaining coral health. However, microbiome development in early life stages of corals remains poorly understood. Here, microbiomes of Acropora gemmifera were analysed during spawning and early developmental stages, and also under different seawater partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) conditions, using amplicon sequencing of 16S rRNA gene for bacteria and archaea and of ITS2 for Symbiodinium. No remarkable microbiome shift was observed in adults before and after spawning. Moreover, microbiomes in eggs were highly similar to those in spawned adults, possibly suggesting a vertical transmission from parents to offspring. However, significant stage-specific changes were found in coral microbiome during development, indicating that host development played a dominant role in shaping coral microbiome. Specifically, Cyanobacteria were particularly abundant in 6-day-old juveniles, but decreased largely in 31-day-old juveniles with a possible subclade shift in Symbiodinium dominance from C2r to D17. Larval microbiome showed changes in elevated pCO2, while juvenile microbiomes remained rather stable in response to higher pCO2. This study provides novel insights into the microbiome development during the critical life stages of coral.

Continue reading ‘Microbiome dynamics in early life stages of the scleractinian coral Acropora gemmifera in response to elevated pCO2’

Reviews and syntheses: Ice acidification, the effects of ocean acidification on sea ice microbial communities (update)

Sea ice algae, like some coastal and estuarine phytoplankton, are naturally exposed to a wider range of pH and CO2 concentrations than those in open marine seas. While climate change and ocean acidification (OA) will impact pelagic communities, their effects on sea ice microbial communities remain unclear.

Sea ice contains several distinct microbial communities, which are exposed to differing environmental conditions depending on their depth within the ice. Bottom communities mostly experience relatively benign bulk ocean properties, while interior brine and surface (infiltration) communities experience much greater extremes.

Most OA studies have examined the impacts on single sea ice algae species in culture. Although some studies examined the effects of OA alone, most examined the effects of OA and either light, nutrients or temperature. With few exceptions, increased CO2 concentration caused either no change or an increase in growth and/or photosynthesis. In situ studies on brine and surface algae also demonstrated a wide tolerance to increased and decreased pH and showed increased growth at higher CO2 concentrations. The short time period of most experiments (< 10 days), together with limited genetic diversity (i.e. use of only a single strain), however, has been identified as a limitation to a broader interpretation of the results.

While there have been few studies on the effects of OA on the growth of marine bacterial communities in general, impacts appear to be minimal. In sea ice also, the few reports available suggest no negative impacts on bacterial growth or community richness.

Sea ice ecosystems are ephemeral, melting and re-forming each year. Thus, for some part of each year organisms inhabiting the ice must also survive outside of the ice, either as part of the phytoplankton or as resting spores on the bottom. During these times, they will be exposed to the full range of co-stressors that pelagic organisms experience. Their ability to continue to make a major contribution to sea ice productivity will depend not only on their ability to survive in the ice but also on their ability to survive the increasing seawater temperatures, changing distribution of nutrients and declining pH forecast for the water column over the next centuries.
Continue reading ‘Reviews and syntheses: Ice acidification, the effects of ocean acidification on sea ice microbial communities (update)’

Ocean acidification experiments in large-scale mesocosms reveal similar dynamics of dissolved organic matter production and biotransformation

Dissolved organic matter (DOM) represents a major reservoir of carbon in the oceans. Environmental stressors such as ocean acidification (OA) potentially affect DOM production and degradation processes, e.g., phytoplankton exudation or microbial uptake and biotransformation of molecules. Resulting changes in carbon storage capacity of the ocean, thus, may cause feedbacks on the global carbon cycle. Previous experiments studying OA effects on the DOM pool under natural conditions, however, were mostly conducted in temperate and coastal eutrophic areas. Here, we report on OA effects on the existing and newly produced DOM pool during an experiment in the subtropical North Atlantic Ocean at the Canary Islands during an (1) oligotrophic phase and (2) after simulated deep water upwelling. The last is a frequently occurring event in this region controlling nutrient and phytoplankton dynamics. We manipulated nine large-scale mesocosms with a gradient of pCO2 ranging from ~350 up to ~1,030 μatm and monitored the DOM molecular composition using ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry via Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR-MS). An increase of 37 μmol L−1 DOC was observed in all mesocosms during a phytoplankton bloom induced by simulated upwelling. Indications for enhanced DOC accumulation under elevated CO2 became apparent during a phase of nutrient recycling toward the end of the experiment. The production of DOM was reflected in changes of the molecular DOM composition. Out of the 7,212 molecular formulae, which were detected throughout the experiment, ~50% correlated significantly in mass spectrometric signal intensity with cumulative bacterial protein production (BPP) and are likely a product of microbial transformation. However, no differences in the produced compounds were found with respect to CO2 levels. Comparing the results of this experiment with a comparable OA experiment in the Swedish Gullmar Fjord, reveals similar succession patterns for individual compound pools during a phytoplankton bloom and subsequent accumulation of these compounds were observed. The similar behavior of DOM production and biotransformation during and following a phytoplankton bloom irrespective of plankton community composition and CO2 treatment provides novel insights into general dynamics of the marine DOM pool.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification experiments in large-scale mesocosms reveal similar dynamics of dissolved organic matter production and biotransformation’

Alterations in microbial community composition with increasing fCO2: a mesocosm study in the eastern Baltic Sea (update)

Ocean acidification resulting from the uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) by the ocean is considered a major threat to marine ecosystems. Here we examined the effects of ocean acidification on microbial community dynamics in the eastern Baltic Sea during the summer of 2012 when inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus were strongly depleted. Large-volume in situ mesocosms were employed to mimic present, future and far future CO2 scenarios. All six groups of phytoplankton enumerated by flow cytometry ( <  20 µm cell diameter) showed distinct trends in net growth and abundance with CO2 enrichment. The picoeukaryotic phytoplankton groups Pico-I and Pico-II displayed enhanced abundances, whilst Pico-III, Synechococcus and the nanoeukaryotic phytoplankton groups were negatively affected by elevated fugacity of CO2 (fCO2). Specifically, the numerically dominant eukaryote, Pico-I, demonstrated increases in gross growth rate with increasing fCO2 sufficient to double its abundance. The dynamics of the prokaryote community closely followed trends in total algal biomass despite differential effects of fCO2 on algal groups. Similarly, viral abundances corresponded to prokaryotic host population dynamics. Viral lysis and grazing were both important in controlling microbial abundances. Overall our results point to a shift, with increasing fCO2, towards a more regenerative system with production dominated by small picoeukaryotic phytoplankton.

Continue reading ‘Alterations in microbial community composition with increasing fCO2: a mesocosm study in the eastern Baltic Sea (update)’

Genome-wide mutation rate response to pH change in the coral reef pathogen Vibrio shilonii AK1

Recent application of mutation accumulation techniques combined with whole-genome sequencing (MA/WGS) has greatly promoted studies of spontaneous mutation. However, such explorations have rarely been conducted on marine organisms, and it is unclear how marine habitats have influenced genome stability. This report resolves the mutation rate and spectrum of the coral reef pathogen Vibrio shilonii, which causes coral bleaching and endangers the biodiversity maintained by coral reefs. We found that its mutation rate and spectrum are highly similar to those of other studied bacteria from various habitats, despite the saline environment. The mutational properties of this marine bacterium are thus controlled by other general evolutionary forces such as natural selection and genetic drift. We also found that as pH drops, the mutation rate decreases and the mutation spectrum is biased in the direction of generating G/C nucleotides. This implies that evolutionary features of this organism and perhaps other marine microbes might be altered by the increasingly acidic ocean water caused by excess CO2 emission. Nonetheless, further exploration is needed as the pH range tested in this study was rather narrow and many other possible mutation determinants, such as carbonate increase, are associated with ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Genome-wide mutation rate response to pH change in the coral reef pathogen Vibrio shilonii AK1’

Ecological energetic perspectives on responses of nitrogen-transforming chemolithoautotrophic microbiota to changes in the marine environment

Transformation and mobilization of bioessential elements in the biosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere constitute the Earth’s biogeochemical cycles, which are driven mainly by microorganisms through their energy and material metabolic processes. Without microbial energy harvesting from sources of light and inorganic chemical bonds for autotrophic fixation of inorganic carbon, there would not be sustainable ecosystems in the vast ocean. Although ecological energetics (eco-energetics) has been emphasized as a core aspect of ecosystem analyses and microorganisms largely control the flow of matter and energy in marine ecosystems, marine microbial communities are rarely studied from the eco-energetic perspective. The diverse bioenergetic pathways and eco-energetic strategies of the microorganisms are essentially the outcome of biosphere-geosphere interactions over evolutionary times. The biogeochemical cycles are intimately interconnected with energy fluxes across the biosphere and the capacity of the ocean to fix inorganic carbon is generally constrained by the availability of nutrients and energy. The understanding of how microbial eco-energetic processes influence the structure and function of marine ecosystems and how they interact with the changing environment is thus fundamental to a mechanistic and predictive understanding of the marine carbon and nitrogen cycles and the trends in global change. By using major groups of chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms that participate in the marine nitrogen cycle as examples, this article examines their eco-energetic strategies, contributions to carbon cycling, and putative responses to and impacts on the various global change processes associated with global warming, ocean acidification, eutrophication, deoxygenation, and pollution. We conclude that knowledge gaps remain despite decades of tremendous research efforts. The advent of new techniques may bring the dawn to scientific breakthroughs that necessitate the multidisciplinary combination of eco-energetic, biogeochemical and “omics” studies in this field.

Continue reading ‘Ecological energetic perspectives on responses of nitrogen-transforming chemolithoautotrophic microbiota to changes in the marine environment’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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