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Modelling dimethylsulfide diffusion in the algal external boundary layer: implications for mutualistic and signalling roles

Lavoie, Michel, Galí, Martí, Sévigny, Caroline, Kieber, David J., Sunda, William G., Spiese, Christopher E., Maps, Frédéric, Levasseur, Maurice
Environmental microbiology 2018 v.20 no.11 pp. 4157-4169
Miozoa, algae, auxins, bacteria, chelating agents, chemoattractants, dimethyl sulfide, enzyme activity, growth factors, iron, models, phytoplankton, siderophores, sulfur, turbulent flow, vitamins
Dimethylsulfide (DMS), a dominant organic sulfur species in the surface ocean, may act as a signalling molecule and contribute to mutualistic interactions between bacteria and marine algae. These proposed functions depend on the DMS concentration in the vicinity of microorganisms. Here, we modelled the DMS enrichment at the surface of DMS‐releasing marine algal cells as a function of DMS production rate, algal cell radius and turbulence. Our results show that the DMS concentration at the surface of unstressed phytoplankton with low DMS production rates can be enriched by <1 nM, whereas for mechanically stressed algae with high activities of the enzyme DMSP‐lyase (a coccolithophore and a dinoflagellate) DMS cell surface enrichments can reach ~10 nM, and could potentially reach μM levels in large cells. These DMS enrichments are much higher than the median DMS concentration in the surface ocean (1.9 nM), and thus may attract and support the growth of bacteria living in the phycosphere. The bacteria in turn may provide photoactive iron chelators (siderophores) that enhance algal iron uptake and provide algal growth factors such as auxins and vitamins. The present study highlights new insights on the extent and impact of microscale DMS enrichments at algal surfaces, thereby contributing to our understanding of the potential chemoattractant and mutualistic roles of DMS in marine microorganisms.