Microbial Community Structure and Expression of Functional Genes Involved in the Seasonal Cycling of DMSP in the Southern Ocean
The Southern Ocean in the vicinity of Antarctica is a region characterized by seasonally-driven marine phytoplankton blooms that are often dominated by microalgal species which produce large amounts of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP). DMSP can be converted to the compound dimethylsulfide (DMS) which is a molecule that can escape into the atmosphere where it is known to have strong condensation properties that are involved in regional cloud formation. Production of DMSP can influence the diversity and composition of microbial assemblages in seawater and the types and activities of microbes in the seawater will likely affect the magnitude of DMSP\DMS production. The project examined the role of DMSP in structuring the microbial communities in Antarctic waters and how this structuring may influence DMSP cycling. The project interacted with elementary students in Maine and brought undergraduate students to Bigelow Laboratory. The project also engaged with a science writer and illustrator who joined the team in Palmer Station in 2018. Many posts are available at xxx The project is examining (1) the extent to which the cycling of DMSP in southern ocean waters influenced the composition and diversity of bacterial and protistan assemblages; (2) conversely, whether the composition and diversity of southern ocean protistan and bacterial assemblages influenced the magnitude and rates of DMSP cycling; we are awaiting results on (3) the expression of DMSP degradation genes by marine bacteria seasonally and in response to field experimental additions of DMSP; and, this year (2020-21), we will synthesize these results by quantifying (4) the microbial networks resulting from the presence of DMSP-producers and DMSP-consumers along with their predators, all involved in the cycling of DMSP in southern ocean waters. The work was accomplished by conducting continuous growth experiments with DMSP-amended natural samples of different microbial communities present in summer (2016-17) and fall (2018) at Palmer Station, WAP. Data from the molecular (such as 16S/ 18S tag sequences, DMSP-cycle gene transcripts) and biogeochemical (such as biogenic sulfur cycling, bacterial production, microbial biomass) investigations will be integrated via network analysis in the coming year (2020-21).
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