Single-cell imaging of phosphorus uptake shows that key harmful algae rely on different phosphorus sources for growth

Schoffelen, Niels J.; Mohr, Wiebke; Ferdelman, Timothy G.; Littmann, Sten; Duerschlag, Julia; Zubkov, Mikhail V.; Ploug, Helle; Kuypers, Marcel M. M.. 2018 Single-cell imaging of phosphorus uptake shows that key harmful algae rely on different phosphorus sources for growth. Scientific Reports, 8 (1).

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Single-cell measurements of biochemical processes have advanced our understanding of cellular physiology in individual microbes and microbial populations. Due to methodological limitations, little is known about single-cell phosphorus (P) uptake and its importance for microbial growth within mixed field populations. Here, we developed a nanometer-scale secondary ion mass spectrometry (nanoSIMS)-based approach to quantify single-cell P uptake in combination with cellular CO2 and N2 fixation. Applying this approach during a harmful algal bloom (HAB), we found that the toxin-producer Nodularia almost exclusively used phosphate for growth at very low phosphate concentrations in the Baltic Sea. In contrast, the non-toxic Aphanizomenon acquired only 15% of its cellular P-demand from phosphate and ~85% from organic P. When phosphate concentrations were raised, Nodularia thrived indicating that this toxin-producer directly benefits from phosphate inputs. The phosphate availability in the Baltic Sea is projected to rise and therefore might foster more frequent and intense Nodularia blooms with a concomitant rise in the overall toxicity of HABs in the Baltic Sea. With a projected increase in HABs worldwide, the capability to use organic P may be a critical factor that not only determines the microbial community structure, but the overall harmfulness and associated costs of algal blooms.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date made live: 02 Jan 2019 13:55 +0 (UTC)

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