Main content area

Bacterial Dimethylsulfoniopropionate Degradation Genes in the Oligotrophic North Pacific Subtropical Gyre

Varaljay, Vanessa A., Gifford, Scott M., Wilson, Samuel T., Sharma, Shalabh, Karl, David M., Moran, Mary Ann
Applied and environmental microbiology 2012 v.78 no.8 pp. 2775-2782
Bacillariophyta, bacteria, bacterioplankton, chlorophyll, correlation, environmental factors, genes, organic sulfur compounds, photosynthetically active radiation, pigments, primary productivity, temperature
Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) is an organic sulfur compound that is rapidly metabolized by marine bacteria either by cleavage to dimethylsulfide (DMS) or demethylation to 3-methiolpropionate. The abundance and diversity of genes encoding bacterial DMS production (dddP) and demethylation (dmdA) were measured in the North Pacific subtropical gyre (NPSG) between May 2008 and February 2009 at Station ALOHA (22°45'N, 158°00'W) at two depths: 25 m and the deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM; ∼100 m). The highest abundance of dmdA genes was in May 2008 at 25 m, with ∼16.5% of cells harboring a gene in one of the eight subclades surveyed, while the highest abundance of dddP genes was in July 2008 at 25 m, with ∼2% of cells harboring a gene. The dmdA gene pool was consistently dominated by homologs from SAR11 subclades, which was supported by findings in metagenomic data sets derived from Station ALOHA. Expression of the SAR11 dmdA genes was low, with typical transcript:gene ratios between 1:350 and 1:1,400. The abundance of DMSP genes was statistically different between 25 m and the DCM and correlated with a number of environmental variables, including primary production, photosynthetically active radiation, particulate DMSP, and DMS concentrations. At 25 m, dddP abundance was positively correlated with pigments that are diagnostic of diatoms; at the DCM, dmdA abundance was positively correlated with temperature. Based on gene abundance, we hypothesize that SAR11 bacterioplankton dominate DMSP cycling in the oligotrophic NPSG, with lesser but consistent involvement of other members of the bacterioplankton community.