Coral reefs are damaged by natural disturbances and local and global anthropogenic stresses. As stresses intensify, so do debates about whether reefs will recover after significant damage. True headway in this debate requires documented temporal trajectories for coral assemblages subjected to various combinations of stresses; therefore, we report relevant changes in coral assemblages at Little Cayman Island. Between 1999 and 2012, spatiotemporal patterns in cover, densities of juveniles and size structure of assemblages were documented inside and outside marine protected areas using transects, quadrats and measurements of maximum diameters. Over five years, bleaching and disease caused live cover to decrease from 26% to 14%, with full recovery seven years later. Juvenile densities varied, reaching a maximum in 2010. Both patterns were consistent within and outside protected areas. In addition, dominant coral species persisted within and outside protected areas although their size frequency distributions varied temporally and spatially. The health of the coral assemblage and the similarity of responses across levels of protection suggested that negligible anthropogenic disturbance at the local scale was a key factor underlying the observed resilience.
White syndrome, a term for scleractinian coral disease with progressive tissue loss, is known to cause depressed growth and increased morality of coral reefs in the major oceans around the world, and the occurrence of this disease has been frequently reported in the past few decades. Investigations during April to September in both 2010 and 2011 identified widespread Poritesandrewsi White syndrome (PAWS) in Xisha Archipelago, South China Sea. However, the causes and etiology of PAWS have been unknown.
A transmission experiment was performed on P. andrewsi in the Qilianyu Subgroup (QLY). The results showed that there was a significant (P ≤ 0.05) difference between test and control groups after 28 days if the invalid replicates were excluded. Rates of tissue loss ranged from 0.90-10.76 cm2 d-1 with a mean of 5.40 ± 3.34 cm2 d-1 (mean ± SD). Bacterial strains were isolated from the PAWS corals at the disease outbreak sites in QLY of the Xisha Archipelago, South China Sea, and included in laboratory-based infection trials to satisfy Koch’s postulates for establishing causality. Following exposure to bacterial concentrations of 105 cells mL-1, the infected colonies exhibited similar signs to those observed in the field. Using phylogenetic 16S rRNA gene analysis, classical phenotypic trait comparison, Biolog automatic identification system, MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry and MALDI Biotyper method, two pathogenic strains were identified as Vibrioalginolyticus.
This is the first report of V. alginolyticus as a pathogenic agent of PAWS in the South China Sea. Our results point out an urgent need to develop sensitive detection methods for V. alginolyticus virulence strains and robust diagnostics for coral disease caused by this and Vibrio pathogenic bacterium in the South China Sea.
In situ pigment contents of biofilm-dwelling bdelloid rotifers of the Garonne River (France) were measured by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and compared with pigment composition of surrounding biofilm microphytobenthic communities. Among pigments that were detected in rotifers, the presence of carotenoids fucoxanthin and myxoxanthophyll showed that the rotifers fed on diatoms and cyanobacteria. Unexpectedly, while diatoms strongly dominated microphytobenthic communities in terms of biomass, HPLC results hinted that rotifers selectively ingested benthic filamentous cyanobacteria. In doing so, rotifers could daily remove a substantial fraction (up to 28%) of this cyanobacterial biomass. The possibility that the rotifers hosted symbiotic myxoxanthophyll-containing cyanobacteria was examined by localisation of chlorophyll fluorescence within rotifers using confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). CLSM results showed an even distribution of quasi–circular fluorescent objects (FO) throughout rotifer bodies, whereas myxoxanthophyll is a biomarker pigment of filamentous cyanobacteria, so the hypothesis was rejected. Our results also suggest that rotifers converted β-carotene (provided by ingested algae) into echinenone, a photoprotective pigment. This study, which is the first one to detail in situ pigment contents of rotifers, clearly shows that the role of cyanobacteria as a food source for meiobenthic invertebrates has been underestimated so far, and deserves urgent consideration.
The occlusion of carbon (C) by phytoliths, the recalcitrant silicified structures deposited within plant tissues, is an important persistent C sink mechanism for croplands and other grass-dominated ecosystems. By constructing a silica content-phytolith content transfer function and calculating the magnitude of phytolith C sink in global croplands with relevant crop production data, this study investigated the present and potential of phytolith C sinks in global croplands and its contribution to the cropland C balance to understand the cropland C cycle and enhance long-term C sequestration in croplands. Our results indicate that the phytolith sink annually sequesters 26.35±10.22 Tg of carbon dioxide (CO2) and may contribute 40±18% of the global net cropland soil C sink for 1961–2100. Rice (25%), wheat (19%) and maize (23%) are the dominant contributing crop species to this phytolith C sink. Continentally, the main contributors are Asia (49%), North America (17%) and Europe (16%). The sink has tripled since 1961, mainly due to fertilizer application and irrigation. Cropland phytolith C sinks may be further enhanced by adopting cropland management practices such as optimization of cropping system and fertilization.
Next generation sequencing of ribosomal DNA is increasingly used to assess the diversity and structure of microbial communities. Here we test the ability of 454 pyrosequencing to detect the number of species present, and assess the relative abundance in terms of cell numbers and biomass of protists in the phylum Haptophyta. We used a mock community consisting of equal number of cells of 11 haptophyte species and compared targeting DNA and RNA/cDNA, and two different V4 SSU rDNA haptophyte-biased primer pairs. Further, we tested four different bioinformatic filtering methods to reduce errors in the resulting sequence dataset. With sequencing depth of 11000–20000 reads and targeting cDNA with Haptophyta specific primers Hap454 we detected all 11 species. A rarefaction analysis of expected number of species recovered as a function of sampling depth suggested that minimum 1400 reads were required here to recover all species in the mock community. Relative read abundance did not correlate to relative cell numbers. Although the species represented with the largest biomass was also proportionally most abundant among the reads, there was generally a weak correlation between proportional read abundance and proportional biomass of the different species, both with DNA and cDNA as template. The 454 sequencing generated considerable spurious diversity, and more with cDNA than DNA as template. With initial filtering based only on match with barcode and primer we observed 100-fold more operational taxonomic units (OTUs) at 99% similarity than the number of species present in the mock community. Filtering based on quality scores, or denoising with PyroNoise resulted in ten times more OTU99% than the number of species. Denoising with AmpliconNoise reduced the number of OTU99% to match the number of species present in the mock community. Based on our analyses, we propose a strategy to more accurately depict haptophyte diversity using 454 pyrosequencing.
The diversity-ecosystem function relationship is an important topic in ecology but has not received much attention in Arctic environments, and has rarely been tested for its stability in time. We studied the temporal variability of benthic ecosystem functioning at hotspots (sites with high benthic boundary fluxes) and coldspots (sites with lower fluxes) across two years in the Canadian Arctic. Benthic remineralisation function was measured as fluxes of oxygen, silicic acid, phosphate, nitrate and nitrite at the sediment-water interface. In addition we determined sediment pigment concentration and taxonomic and functional macrobenthic diversity. To separate temporal from spatial variability, we sampled the same nine sites from the Mackenzie Shelf to Baffin Bay during the same season (summer or fall) in 2008 and 2009. We observed that temporal variability of benthic remineralisation function at hotspots is higher than at coldspots and that taxonomic and functional macrobenthic diversity did not change significantly between years. Temporal variability of food availability (i.e., sediment surface pigment concentration) seemed higher at coldspot than at hotspot areas. Sediment chlorophyll a (Chl a) concentration, taxonomic richness, total abundance, water depth and abundance of the largest gallery-burrowing polychaete Lumbrineristetraura together explained 42% of the total variation in fluxes. Food supply proxies (i.e., sediment Chl a and depth) split hot- from coldspot stations and explained variation on the axis of temporal variability, and macrofaunal community parameters explained variation mostly along the axis separating eastern from western sites with hot- or coldspot regimes. We conclude that variability in benthic remineralisation function, food supply and diversity will react to climate change on different time scales, and that their interactive effects may hide the detection of progressive change, particularly at hotspots. Time-series of benthic functions and its related parameters should be conducted at both hot- and coldspots to produce reliable predictive models.
Climate-driven changes are expected to alter the hydrography of the Sub-Antarctic Zone (SAZ) and Polar Frontal Zone (PFZ) south of Australia, in which distinct regional environments are believed to be responsible for the differences in phytoplankton biomass in these regions. Here, we report how the dynamic influences of light, iron and temperature, which are responsible for the photophysiological differences between phytoplankton in the SAZ and PFZ, contribute to the biomass differences in these regions. High effective photochemical efficiency of photosystem II (/0.4), maximum photosynthesis rate (), light-saturation intensity (), maximum rate of photosynthetic electron transport (1/), and low photoprotective pigment concentrations observed in the SAZ correspond to high chlorophyll and iron concentrations. In contrast, phytoplankton in the PFZ exhibits low / ( 0.2) and high concentrations of photoprotective pigments under low light environment. Strong negative relationships between iron, temperature, and photoprotective pigments demonstrate that cells were producing more photoprotective pigments under low temperature and iron conditions, and are responsible for the low biomass and low productivity measured in the PFZ. As warming and enhanced iron input is expected in this region, this could probably increase phytoplankton photosynthesis in this region. However, complex interactions between the biogeochemical processes (e.g. stratification caused by warming could prevent mixing of nutrients), which control phytoplankton biomass and productivity, remain uncertain.
Gene structure and expression regulation of form II RuBisCO (rbcII) in dinoflagellates are still poorly understood. Here we isolated this gene (Pdrbc) and investigated its diel expression pattern in a harmful algal bloom forming dinoflagellate Prorocentrum donghaiense. We obtained cDNA sequences with triple tandem repeats of the coding unit (CU); the 5′ region has the sequence of a typical dinoflagellate plastid gene, encoding an N-terminus with two transmembrane regions separated by a plastid transit peptide. The CUs (1,455 bp except 1464 bp in last CU) are connected through a 63 bp spacer. Phylogenetic analysis showed that rbcII CUs within species formed monophyletic clusters, indicative of intraspecific gene duplication or purifying evolution. Using quantitative PCR (qPCR) we estimated 117±40 CUs of Pdrbc in the P. donghaiense genome. Although it is commonly believed that most dinoflagellate genes lack transcriptional regulation, our RT-qPCR analysis on synchronized cultures revealed remarkable diel rhythm of Pdrbc expression, showing significant correlations of transcript abundance with the timing of the dark-to-light transition and cell cycle G2M-phase. When the cultures were shifted to continuous light, Pdrbc expression remained significantly correlated with the G2M-phase. Under continuous darkness the cell cycle was arrested at the G1 phase, and the rhythm of Pdrbc transcription disappeared. Our results suggest that dinoflagellate rbcII 1) undergoes duplication or sequence purification within species, 2) is organized in tandem arrays in most species probably to facilitate efficient translation and import of the encoded enzyme, and 3) is regulated transcriptionally in a cell cycle-dependent fashion at least in some dinoflagellates.
Traditionally Cocholodinium and Gymnodinium sensu lato clade are distinguished based on the cingulum turn number, which has been increasingly recognized to be inadequate for Gymnodiniales genus classification. This has been improved by the combination of the apical groove characteristics and molecular phylogeny, which has led to the erection of several new genera (Takayama, Akashiwo, Karenia, and Karlodinium). Taking the apical groove characteristics and molecular phylogeny combined approach, we reexamined the historically taxonomically uncertain species Cochlodinium geminatum that formed massive blooms in Pearl River Estuary, China, in recent years. Samples were collected from a bloom in 2011 for morphological, characteristic pigment, and molecular analyses. We found that the cingulum in this species wraps around the cell body about 1.2 turns on average but can appear under the light microscopy to be >1.5 turns after the cells have been preserved. The shape of its apical groove, however, was stably an open-ended anticlockwise loop of kidney bean shape, similar to that of Polykrikos. Furthermore, the molecular phylogenetic analysis using 18S rRNA-ITS-28S rRNA gene cistron we obtained in this study also consistently placed this species closest to Polykrikos within the Gymnodinium sensu stricto clade and set it far separated from the clade of Cochlodinium. These results suggest that this species should be transferred to Polykrikos as Polykrikos geminatum. Our results reiterate the need to use the combination of apical groove morphology and molecular phylogeny for the classification of species within the genus of Cochlodinium and other Gymnodiniales lineages.
Phylogenetic trees have been constructed for a wide range of organisms using gene sequence information, especially through the identification of orthologous genes that have been vertically inherited. The number of available complete genome sequences is rapidly increasing, and many tools for construction of genome trees based on whole genome sequences have been proposed. However, development of a reasonable method of using complete genome sequences for construction of phylogenetic trees has not been established. We have developed a method for construction of phylogenetic trees based on the average sequence similarities of whole genome sequences. We used this method to examine the phylogeny of 115 photosynthetic prokaryotes, i.e., cyanobacteria, Chlorobi, proteobacteria, Chloroflexi, Firmicutes and nonphotosynthetic organisms including Archaea. Although the bootstrap values for the branching order of phyla were low, probably due to lateral gene transfer and saturated mutation, the obtained tree was largely consistent with the previously reported phylogenetic trees, indicating that this method is a robust alternative to traditional phylogenetic methods.
One mechanism by which marine organisms may respond to climate shifts is range shifts. The corkwing wrasse (Symphodus melops) is a temperate fish species, inhabiting the coasts of Europe, that show strong indications of current as well as historical (ice-age) range shifts towards the north. Nine neutral microsatellite DNA markers were screened to study genetic signatures and spatial population structure over the entire geographic and thermal gradient of the species from Portugal to Norway. A major genetic break (FST = 0.159 average among pairs) was identified between Scandinavian and more southern populations, with a marked reduction (30% or more) in levels of genetic variability in Scandinavia. The break is probably related to bottleneck(s) associated with post-glacial colonization of the Scandinavian coasts, and indicates a lack of present gene flow across the North Sea. The lack of gene flow can most likely be attributed to the species’ need for rocky substrate for nesting and a relatively short pelagic larval phase, limiting dispersal by ocean currents. These findings demonstrate that long-distance dispersal may be severely limited in the corkwing wrasse, and that successful range-shifts following present climate change may be problematic for this and other species with limited dispersal abilities, even in the seemingly continuous marine environment.
Marine ecosystems are undergoing substantial changes due to human-induced pressures. Analysis of long-term data series is a valuable tool for understanding naturally and anthropogenically induced changes in plankton communities. In the present study, seasonal monitoring data were collected in three sub-basins of the northern Baltic Sea between 1979 and 2011 and statistically analysed for trends and interactions between surface water hydrography, inorganic nutrient concentrations and phyto- and zooplankton community composition. The most conspicuous hydrographic change was a significant increase in late summer surface water temperatures over the study period. In addition, salinity decreased and dissolved inorganic nutrient concentrations increased in some basins. Based on redundancy analysis (RDA), warming was the key environmental factor explaining the observed changes in plankton communities: the general increase in total phytoplankton biomass, Cyanophyceae, Prymnesiophyceae and Chrysophyceae, and decrease in Cryptophyceae throughout the study area, as well as increase in rotifers and decrease in total zooplankton, cladoceran and copepod abundances in some basins. We conclude that the plankton communities in the Baltic Sea have shifted towards a food web structure with smaller sized organisms, leading to decreased energy available for grazing zooplankton and planktivorous fish. The shift is most probably due to complex interactions between warming, eutrophication and increased top-down pressure due to overexploitation of resources, and the resulting trophic cascades.
Legume-rhizobium symbiosis is a complex process that is regulated in the host plant cell through gene expression network. Many nodulin genes that are upregulated during different stages of nodulation have been identified in leguminous herbs. However, no nodulin genes in woody legume trees, such as black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), have yet been reported.
To identify the nodulin genes involved in R. pseudoacacia-Mesorhizobium amorphae CCNWGS0123 symbiosis, a suppressive subtractive hybridization approach was applied to reveal profiling of differentially expressed genes and two subtracted cDNA libraries each containing 600 clones were constructed. Then, 114 unigenes were identified from forward SSH library by differential screening and the putative functions of these translational products were classified into 13 categories. With a particular interest in regulatory genes, twenty-one upregulated genes encoding potential regulatory proteins were selected based on the result of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis. They included nine putative transcription genes, eight putative post-translational regulator genes and four membrane protein genes. The expression patterns of these genes were further analyzed by quantitative RT-PCR at different stages of nodule development.
The data presented here offer the first insights into the molecular foundation underlying R. pseudoacacia–M. amorphae symbiosis. A number of regulatory genes screened in the present study revealed a high level of regulatory complexity (transcriptional, post-transcriptional, translational and post-translational) that is likely essential to develop symbiosis. In addition, the possible roles of these genes in black locust nodulation are discussed.
Photobacterium profundum SS9 is a Gram-negative bacterium, originally collected from the Sulu Sea. Its genome consists of two chromosomes and a 80 kb plasmid. Although it can grow under a wide range of pressures, P. profundum grows optimally at 28 MPa and 15°C. Its ability to grow at atmospheric pressure allows for both easy genetic manipulation and culture, making it a model organism to study piezophily. Here, we report a shotgun proteomic analysis of P. profundum grown at atmospheric compared to high pressure using label-free quantitation and mass spectrometry analysis. We have identified differentially expressed proteins involved in high pressure adaptation, which have been previously reported using other methods. Proteins involved in key metabolic pathways were also identified as being differentially expressed. Proteins involved in the glycolysis/gluconeogenesis pathway were up-regulated at high pressure. Conversely, several proteins involved in the oxidative phosphorylation pathway were up-regulated at atmospheric pressure. Some of the proteins that were differentially identified are regulated directly in response to the physical impact of pressure. The expression of some proteins involved in nutrient transport or assimilation, are likely to be directly regulated by pressure. In a natural environment, different hydrostatic pressures represent distinct ecosystems with their own particular nutrient limitations and abundances. However, the only variable considered in this study was atmospheric pressure.
Mariculture of tropical sea cucumbers is promising, but the nursery rearing of juveniles is a bottleneck for farming and sea ranching. We conducted four medium-scale experiments lasting 3–6 weeks, using thousands of cultured juvenile sandfish Holothuria scabra, to optimise nursery rearing in mesh enclosures in earthen seawater ponds and to test rearing in enclosures in the sea. In one experiment, survival in fine-mesh enclosures (1 m3; 660-µm mesh) related nonlinearly to juvenile size, revealing a threshold body length of 5–8 mm for initial transfer from hatchery tanks. Survival in enclosures within ponds in the other experiments ranged from 78–97%, and differences in growth rates among experiments were explained largely by seasonal differences in seawater temperatures in ponds. Stripped shadecloth units within fine-mesh enclosures increased feeding surfaces and improved growth rates by >15%. On the other hand, shading over the enclosures may lower growth rates. Following the rearing in fine-mesh enclosures, small juveniles (0.5 to 1 g) were grown to stocking size (3–10 g) in coarse-mesh enclosures of 1-mm mesh. Sand or mud added to coarse-mesh enclosures did not significantly improve growth compared to controls without sediment. Survival of sandfish juveniles in coarse-mesh enclosures set on the benthos within seagrass beds differed between two sheltered bays and growth was slow compared to groups within the same type of enclosures in an earthen pond. Our findings should lead to significant improvement in the cost-effectiveness of rearing sandfish juveniles to a stocking size compared to established methods and highlight the need for further research into nursery systems in the sea.
We describe a model predicting the effects of low environmental oxygen on vital rates (egg production, somatic growth, and mortality) of the coastal planktonic copepod Acartia tonsa. Hypoxic conditions can result in respiration rate being directly limited by oxygen availability. We hypothesized that A. tonsa egg production, somatic growth, and ingestion rates would all respond in a similar manner to low oxygen conditions, as a result of oxygen dependent changes in respiration rate. Rate data for A. tonsa egg production, somatic growth, and ingestion under low environmental oxygen were compiled from the literature and from supplementary experiments. The response of these rates to oxygen was compared by converting all to the analogous units in terms of oxygen utilization, which we termed analogous respiration rate. These analogous respiration rates, along with published measurements of respiration rates, were used to parameterize and evaluate the relationship between A. tonsa respiration rate and environmental oxygen. At 18°C, our results suggest that A. tonsa experiences sub-lethal effects of hypoxia below an oxygen partial pressure of 8.1 kPa (∼3.1 mg L−1 = 2.3 mL L−1). The results of this study can be used to predict the effects of hypoxia on A. tonsa growth and mortality as related to environmental temperature and oxygen partial pressure. Such predictions will be useful as a way to incorporate the effects of coastal hypoxia into population, community, or ecosystem level models that include A. tonsa. This approach can also be used to characterize the effects of hypoxia on other aquatic organisms.
Isogamous organisms lack obvious cytological differences in the gametes of the two complementary mating types. Consequently, it is difficult to ascertain which of the two mating types are homologous when comparing related but sexual isolated strains or species. The colonial volvocalean algal genus Gonium consists of such isogamous organisms with heterothallic mating types designated arbitrarily as plus or minus in addition to homothallic strains. Homologous molecular markers among lineages may provide an “objective” framework to assign heterothallic mating types.
Using degenerate primers designed based on previously reported MID orthologs, the “master regulator” of mating types/sexes in the colonial Volvocales, MID homologs were identified and their presence/absence was examined in nine strains of four species of Gonium. Only one of the two complementary mating types in each of the four heterothallic species has a MID homolog. In addition to heterothallic strains, a homothallic strain of G. multicoccum has MID. Molecular evolutionary analysis suggests that MID of this homothallic strain retains functional constraint comparable to that of the heterothallic strains.
We coordinated mating genotypes based on presence or absence of a MID homolog, respectively, in heterothallic species. This scheme should be applicable to heterothallic species of other isogamous colonial Volvocales including Pandorina and Yamagishiella. Homothallism emerged polyphyletically in the colonial Volvocales, although its mechanism remains unknown. Our identification of a MID homolog for a homothallic strain of G. multicoccum suggests a MID-dependent mechanism is involved in the sexual developmental program of this homothallic species.
Dinoflagellates are the major causative agents of harmful algal blooms in the coastal zone, which has resulted in adverse effects on the marine ecosystem and public health, and has become a global concern. Knowledge of cell cycle regulation in proliferating cells is essential for understanding bloom dynamics, and so this study compared the protein profiles of Prorocentrum donghaiense at different cell cycle phases and identified differentially expressed proteins using 2-D fluorescence difference gel electrophoresis combined with MALDI-TOF-TOF mass spectrometry. The results showed that the synchronized cells of P. donghaiense completed a cell cycle within 24 hours and cell division was phased with the diurnal cycle. Comparison of the protein profiles at four cell cycle phases (G1, S, early and late G2/M) showed that 53 protein spots altered significantly in abundance. Among them, 41 were identified to be involved in a variety of biological processes, e.g. cell cycle and division, RNA metabolism, protein and amino acid metabolism, energy and carbon metabolism, oxidation-reduction processes, and ABC transport. The periodic expression of these proteins was critical to maintain the proper order and function of the cell cycle. This study, to our knowledge, for the first time revealed the major biological processes occurring at different cell cycle phases which provided new insights into the mechanisms regulating the cell cycle and growth of dinoflagellates.
During the last two decades, large-scale high biomass algal blooms of the dinoflagellate Prorocentrum donghaiense Lu have occurred frequently in the East China Sea (ECS). The role of increasing nutrient concentrations in driving those blooms is well-established, but the source population that initiates them is poorly understood. We hypothesized that the front of Taiwan Warm Current (TWC) may serve as a ‘seed bank’ that initiates P. donghaiense blooms in the ECS, as the physiochemical conditions in the TWC are suitable for the growth of P. donghaiense. In order to test this hypothesis, two surveys at different spatio-temporal scales were conducted in 2010 and 2011. We found a strong correlation in space and time between the abundance of P. donghaiense and the TWC. The spatial extent of the P. donghaiense bloom coincided with the TWC front in both 2010 and 2011. During the early development of the blooms, P. donghaiense concentration was highest at the TWC front, and then the bloom mass shifted inshore over the course of our 2011 survey. The TWC also moved inshore, albeit after the appearance of P. donghaiense. Overall, these results support our hypothesis that P. donghaiense blooms develop from the population at the TWC front in the ECS, suggesting the role of the ocean current front as a seed bank to dinoflagellate blooms.
The recent invasion of the red alga Heterosiphonia japonica in the western North Atlantic Ocean has provided a unique opportunity to study invasion dynamics across a biogeographical barrier. Native to the western North Pacific Ocean, initial collections in 2007 and 2009 restricted the western North Atlantic range of this invader to Rhode Island, USA. However, through subtidal community surveys, we document the presence of Heterosiphonia in coastal waters from Maine to New York, USA, a distance of more than 700 km. This geographical distribution spans a well-known biogeographical barrier at Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Despite significant differences in subtidal community structure north and south of Cape Cod, Heterosiphonia was found at all but two sites surveyed in both biogeographic provinces, suggesting that this invader is capable of rapid expansion over broad geographic ranges. Across all sites surveyed, Heterosiphonia comprised 14% of the subtidal benthic community. However, average abundances of nearly 80% were found at some locations. As a drifting macrophyte, Heterosiphonia was found as intertidal wrack in abundances of up to 65% of the biomass washed up along beaches surveyed. Our surveys suggest that the high abundance of Heterosiphonia has already led to marked changes in subtidal community structure; we found significantly lower species richness in recipient communities with higher Heterosiphona abundances. Based on temperature and salinity tolerances of the European populations, we believe Heterosiphonia has the potential to invade and alter subtidal communities from Florida to Newfoundland in the western North Atlantic.
Eutreptiella are an evolutionarily unique and ecologically important genus of microalgae, but they are poorly understood with regard to their genomic make-up and expression profiles. Through the analysis of the full-length cDNAs from a Eutreptiella species, we found a conserved 28-nt spliced leader sequence (Eut-SL, ACACUUUCUGAGUGUCUAUUUUUUUUCG) was trans-spliced to the mRNAs of Eutreptiella sp. Using a primer derived from Eut-SL, we constructed four cDNA libraries under contrasting physiological conditions for 454 pyrosequencing. Clustering analysis of the ∼1.9×106 original reads (average length 382 bp) yielded 36,643 unique transcripts. Although only 28% of the transcripts matched documented genes, this fraction represents a functionally very diverse gene set, suggesting that SL trans-splicing is likely ubiquitous in this alga’s transcriptome. The mRNAs of Eutreptiella sp. seemed to have short 5′- untranslated regions, estimated to be 21 nucleotides on average. Among the diverse biochemical pathways represented in the transcriptome we obtained, carbonic anhydrase and genes known to function in the C4 pathway and heterotrophic carbon fixation were found, posing a question whether Eutreptiella sp. employs multifaceted strategies to acquire and fix carbon efficiently. This first large-scale transcriptomic dataset for a euglenoid uncovers many potential novel genes and overall offers a valuable genetic resource for research on euglenoid algae.
A mer-lux bioreporter was constructed to assess the bioavailability of methylmercury [CH3Hg(II)] in Escherichia coli. The bioreporter was shown to be sensitive, with a detection limit of 2.5 nM CH3Hg(II), and was used to investigate the effects of chlorides, humic acids, and thiols on the bioavailability of CH3Hg(II) in E. coli. It was found that increasing the concentration of chlorides resulted in an increase in CH3Hg(II) bioavailability, suggesting that there was passive diffusion of the neutral complex (CH3HgCl0). Humic acids were found to reduce the bioavailability of CH3Hg(II) in varying degrees. Complexation with cysteine resulted in increased bioavailability of CH3Hg(II), while assays with equivalent concentrations of methionine and leucine had little or no effect on bioavailability. The mechanism of uptake of the mercurial-cysteine complexes is likely not passive diffusion but could result from the activities of a cysteine transport system. The bioavailability of CH3Hg(II) decreased with increasing glutathione concentrations.
Karenia brevis is the dominant toxic red tide algal species in the Gulf of Mexico. It produces potent neurotoxins (brevetoxins [PbTxs]), which negatively impact human and animal health, local economies, and ecosystem function. Field measurements have shown that cellular brevetoxin contents vary from 1–68 pg/cell but the source of this variability is uncertain. Increases in cellular toxicity caused by nutrient-limitation and inter-strain differences have been observed in many algal species. This study examined the effect of P-limitation of growth rate on cellular toxin concentrations in five Karenia brevis strains from different geographic locations. Phosphorous was selected because of evidence for regional P-limitation of algal growth in the Gulf of Mexico. Depending on the isolate, P-limited cells had 2.3- to 7.3-fold higher PbTx per cell than P-replete cells. The percent of cellular carbon associated with brevetoxins (%C-PbTx) was ∼ 0.7 to 2.1% in P-replete cells, but increased to 1.6–5% under P-limitation. Because PbTxs are potent anti-grazing compounds, this increased investment in PbTxs should enhance cellular survival during periods of nutrient-limited growth. The %C-PbTx was inversely related to the specific growth rate in both the nutrient-replete and P-limited cultures of all strains. This inverse relationship is consistent with an evolutionary tradeoff between carbon investment in PbTxs and other grazing defenses, and C investment in growth and reproduction. In aquatic environments where nutrient supply and grazing pressure often vary on different temporal and spatial scales, this tradeoff would be selectively advantageous as it would result in increased net population growth rates. The variation in PbTx/cell values observed in this study can account for the range of values observed in the field, including the highest values, which are not observed under N-limitation. These results suggest P-limitation is an important factor regulating cellular toxicity and adverse impacts during at least some K. brevis blooms.
The harmful dinoflagellate Ostreopsis cf. ovata has been causing toxic events along the Mediterranean coasts and other temperate and tropical areas, with increasing frequency during the last decade. Despite many studies, important biological features of this species are still poorly known. An integrated study, using different microscopy and molecular techniques, Raman microspectroscopy and high resolution liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (HR LC-MS), was undertaken to elucidate cytological aspects, and identify main metabolites including toxins. The species was genetically identified as O. cf. ovata, Atlantic-Mediterranean clade. The ultrastructural results show unique features of the mucilage network abundantly produced by this species to colonize benthic substrates, with a new role of trichocysts, never described before. The amorphous polysaccharidic component of mucilage appears to derive from pusule fibrous material and mucocysts. In all stages of growth, the cells show an abundant production of lipids. Different developmental stages of chloroplasts are found in the peripheral cytoplasm and in the centre of cell. In vivo Raman microspectroscopy confirms the presence of the carotenoid peridinin in O. cf. ovata, and detects in several specimen the abundant presence of unsaturated lipids structurally related to docosahexaenoic acid. The HR LC-MS analysis reveals that ovatoxin-a is the predominant toxin, together with decreasing amounts of ovatoxin-b, -d/e, -c and putative palytoxin. Toxins concentration on a per cell basis increases from exponential to senescent phase. The results suggest that benthic blooms of this species are probably related to features such as the ability to create a unique mucilaginous sheath covering the sea bottom, associated with the production of potent toxins as palytoxin-like compounds. In this way, O. cf. ovata may be able to rapidly colonize benthic substrates outcompeting other species.
Demosponges are challenging for phylogenetic systematics because of their plastic and relatively simple morphologies and many deep divergences between major clades. To improve understanding of the phylogenetic relationships within Demospongiae, we sequenced and analyzed seven nuclear housekeeping genes involved in a variety of cellular functions from a diverse group of sponges.
We generated data from each of the four sponge classes (i.e., Calcarea, Demospongiae, Hexactinellida, and Homoscleromorpha), but focused on family-level relationships within demosponges. With data for 21 newly sampled families, our Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian-based approaches recovered previously phylogenetically defined taxa: Keratosap, Myxospongiaep, Spongillidap, Haploscleromorphap (the marine haplosclerids) and Democlaviap. We found conflicting results concerning the relationships of Keratosap and Myxospongiaep to the remaining demosponges, but our results strongly supported a clade of Haploscleromorphap+Spongillidap+Democlaviap. In contrast to hypotheses based on mitochondrial genome and ribosomal data, nuclear housekeeping gene data suggested that freshwater sponges (Spongillidap) are sister to Haploscleromorphap rather than part of Democlaviap. Within Keratosap, we found equivocal results as to the monophyly of Dictyoceratida. Within Myxospongiaep, Chondrosida and Verongida were monophyletic. A well-supported clade within Democlaviap, Tetractinellidap, composed of all sampled members of Astrophorina and Spirophorina (including the only lithistid in our analysis), was consistently revealed as the sister group to all other members of Democlaviap. Within Tetractinellidap, we did not recover monophyletic Astrophorina or Spirophorina. Our results also reaffirmed the monophyly of order Poecilosclerida (excluding Desmacellidae and Raspailiidae), and polyphyly of Hadromerida and Halichondrida.
These results, using an independent nuclear gene set, confirmed many hypotheses based on ribosomal and/or mitochondrial genes, and they also identified clades with low statistical support or clades that conflicted with traditional morphological classification. Our results will serve as a basis for future exploration of these outstanding questions using more taxon- and gene-rich datasets.