Unicellular cyanobacteria are important components of phytoplankton communities in Australia's Northern oceanic ecoregions

Lisa R. Moore, Taotao Huang, Martin Ostrowski, Sophie Mazard, Sheemal S. Kumar, Hasinika K. A. H. Gamage, Mark V. Brown, Lauren F. Messer, Justin R. Seymour, Ian Paulsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The tropical marine environments of northern Australia encompasses a diverse range of geomorphological and oceanographic conditions and high levels of productivity and nitrogen fixation. However, efforts to characterize phytoplankton assemblages in these waters have been restricted to studies using microscopic and pigment analyses, leading to the current consensus that this region is dominated by large diatoms, dinoflagellates, and the marine cyanobacterium Trichodesmium. During an oceanographic transect from the Arafura Sea through the Torres Strait to the Coral Sea, we characterized prokaryotic and eukaryotic phytoplankton communities in surface waters using a combination of flow cytometry and Illumina based 16S and 18S ribosomal RNA amplicon sequencing. Similar to observations in other marine regions around Australian, phytoplankton assemblages throughout this entire region were rich in unicellular picocyanobacterial primary producers while picoeukaryotic phytoplankton formed a consistent, though smaller proportion of the photosynthetic biomass. Major taxonomic groups displayed distinct biogeographic patterns linked to oceanographic and nutrient conditions. Unicellular picocyanobacteria dominated in both flow cytometric abundance and carbon biomass, with members of the Synechococcus genus dominating in the shallower Arafura Sea and Torres Strait where chlorophyll a was relatively higher (averaging 0.4 ± 0.2 mg m-3), and Prochlorococcus dominating in the oligotrophic Coral Sea where chlorophyll a averaged 0.13 ± 0.07 mg m-3. Consistent with previous microscopic and pigment-based observations, we found from sequence analysis that a variety of diatoms (Bacillariophyceae) exhibited high relative abundance in the Arafura Sea and Torres Strait, while dinoflagellates (Dinophyceae) and prymnesiophytes (Prymnesiophyceae) were more abundant in the Coral Sea. Ordination analysis identified temperature, nutrient concentrations and water depth as key drivers of the region’s assemblage composition. This is the first molecular and flow cytometric survey of the abundance and diversity of both prokaryotic and picoeukaryotic phytoplankton in this region, and points to the need to include the picocyanobacterial populations as an essential oceanic variable for sustained monitoring in order to better understand the health of these important coastal waters as global oceans change.
LanguageEnglish
Article number3356
Pages1-16
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2019

Fingerprint

Phytoplankton
Cyanobacteria
Oceans and Seas
Anthozoa
Haptophyta
Dinoflagellida
Diatoms
Water
Biomass
Prochlorococcus
18S Ribosomal RNA
16S Ribosomal RNA
Synechococcus
RNA Sequence Analysis
Food
Nitrogen Fixation
Sequence Analysis
Flow Cytometry
Carbon
Temperature

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • eukaryotic phytoplankton
  • marine cyanobacteria
  • Australia
  • amplicon sequencing
  • flow cytometry

Cite this

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title = "Unicellular cyanobacteria are important components of phytoplankton communities in Australia's Northern oceanic ecoregions",
abstract = "The tropical marine environments of northern Australia encompasses a diverse range of geomorphological and oceanographic conditions and high levels of productivity and nitrogen fixation. However, efforts to characterize phytoplankton assemblages in these waters have been restricted to studies using microscopic and pigment analyses, leading to the current consensus that this region is dominated by large diatoms, dinoflagellates, and the marine cyanobacterium Trichodesmium. During an oceanographic transect from the Arafura Sea through the Torres Strait to the Coral Sea, we characterized prokaryotic and eukaryotic phytoplankton communities in surface waters using a combination of flow cytometry and Illumina based 16S and 18S ribosomal RNA amplicon sequencing. Similar to observations in other marine regions around Australian, phytoplankton assemblages throughout this entire region were rich in unicellular picocyanobacterial primary producers while picoeukaryotic phytoplankton formed a consistent, though smaller proportion of the photosynthetic biomass. Major taxonomic groups displayed distinct biogeographic patterns linked to oceanographic and nutrient conditions. Unicellular picocyanobacteria dominated in both flow cytometric abundance and carbon biomass, with members of the Synechococcus genus dominating in the shallower Arafura Sea and Torres Strait where chlorophyll a was relatively higher (averaging 0.4 ± 0.2 mg m-3), and Prochlorococcus dominating in the oligotrophic Coral Sea where chlorophyll a averaged 0.13 ± 0.07 mg m-3. Consistent with previous microscopic and pigment-based observations, we found from sequence analysis that a variety of diatoms (Bacillariophyceae) exhibited high relative abundance in the Arafura Sea and Torres Strait, while dinoflagellates (Dinophyceae) and prymnesiophytes (Prymnesiophyceae) were more abundant in the Coral Sea. Ordination analysis identified temperature, nutrient concentrations and water depth as key drivers of the region’s assemblage composition. This is the first molecular and flow cytometric survey of the abundance and diversity of both prokaryotic and picoeukaryotic phytoplankton in this region, and points to the need to include the picocyanobacterial populations as an essential oceanic variable for sustained monitoring in order to better understand the health of these important coastal waters as global oceans change.",
keywords = "eukaryotic phytoplankton, marine cyanobacteria, Australia, amplicon sequencing, flow cytometry",
author = "Moore, {Lisa R.} and Taotao Huang and Martin Ostrowski and Sophie Mazard and Kumar, {Sheemal S.} and Gamage, {Hasinika K. A. H.} and Brown, {Mark V.} and Messer, {Lauren F.} and Seymour, {Justin R.} and Ian Paulsen",
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doi = "10.3389/fmicb.2018.03356",
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Unicellular cyanobacteria are important components of phytoplankton communities in Australia's Northern oceanic ecoregions. / Moore, Lisa R.; Huang, Taotao; Ostrowski, Martin; Mazard, Sophie; Kumar, Sheemal S.; Gamage, Hasinika K. A. H.; Brown, Mark V.; Messer, Lauren F.; Seymour, Justin R.; Paulsen, Ian.

In: Frontiers in Microbiology, Vol. 9, 3356, 23.01.2019, p. 1-16.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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T1 - Unicellular cyanobacteria are important components of phytoplankton communities in Australia's Northern oceanic ecoregions

AU - Moore, Lisa R.

AU - Huang, Taotao

AU - Ostrowski, Martin

AU - Mazard, Sophie

AU - Kumar, Sheemal S.

AU - Gamage, Hasinika K. A. H.

AU - Brown, Mark V.

AU - Messer, Lauren F.

AU - Seymour, Justin R.

AU - Paulsen, Ian

N1 - Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

PY - 2019/1/23

Y1 - 2019/1/23

N2 - The tropical marine environments of northern Australia encompasses a diverse range of geomorphological and oceanographic conditions and high levels of productivity and nitrogen fixation. However, efforts to characterize phytoplankton assemblages in these waters have been restricted to studies using microscopic and pigment analyses, leading to the current consensus that this region is dominated by large diatoms, dinoflagellates, and the marine cyanobacterium Trichodesmium. During an oceanographic transect from the Arafura Sea through the Torres Strait to the Coral Sea, we characterized prokaryotic and eukaryotic phytoplankton communities in surface waters using a combination of flow cytometry and Illumina based 16S and 18S ribosomal RNA amplicon sequencing. Similar to observations in other marine regions around Australian, phytoplankton assemblages throughout this entire region were rich in unicellular picocyanobacterial primary producers while picoeukaryotic phytoplankton formed a consistent, though smaller proportion of the photosynthetic biomass. Major taxonomic groups displayed distinct biogeographic patterns linked to oceanographic and nutrient conditions. Unicellular picocyanobacteria dominated in both flow cytometric abundance and carbon biomass, with members of the Synechococcus genus dominating in the shallower Arafura Sea and Torres Strait where chlorophyll a was relatively higher (averaging 0.4 ± 0.2 mg m-3), and Prochlorococcus dominating in the oligotrophic Coral Sea where chlorophyll a averaged 0.13 ± 0.07 mg m-3. Consistent with previous microscopic and pigment-based observations, we found from sequence analysis that a variety of diatoms (Bacillariophyceae) exhibited high relative abundance in the Arafura Sea and Torres Strait, while dinoflagellates (Dinophyceae) and prymnesiophytes (Prymnesiophyceae) were more abundant in the Coral Sea. Ordination analysis identified temperature, nutrient concentrations and water depth as key drivers of the region’s assemblage composition. This is the first molecular and flow cytometric survey of the abundance and diversity of both prokaryotic and picoeukaryotic phytoplankton in this region, and points to the need to include the picocyanobacterial populations as an essential oceanic variable for sustained monitoring in order to better understand the health of these important coastal waters as global oceans change.

AB - The tropical marine environments of northern Australia encompasses a diverse range of geomorphological and oceanographic conditions and high levels of productivity and nitrogen fixation. However, efforts to characterize phytoplankton assemblages in these waters have been restricted to studies using microscopic and pigment analyses, leading to the current consensus that this region is dominated by large diatoms, dinoflagellates, and the marine cyanobacterium Trichodesmium. During an oceanographic transect from the Arafura Sea through the Torres Strait to the Coral Sea, we characterized prokaryotic and eukaryotic phytoplankton communities in surface waters using a combination of flow cytometry and Illumina based 16S and 18S ribosomal RNA amplicon sequencing. Similar to observations in other marine regions around Australian, phytoplankton assemblages throughout this entire region were rich in unicellular picocyanobacterial primary producers while picoeukaryotic phytoplankton formed a consistent, though smaller proportion of the photosynthetic biomass. Major taxonomic groups displayed distinct biogeographic patterns linked to oceanographic and nutrient conditions. Unicellular picocyanobacteria dominated in both flow cytometric abundance and carbon biomass, with members of the Synechococcus genus dominating in the shallower Arafura Sea and Torres Strait where chlorophyll a was relatively higher (averaging 0.4 ± 0.2 mg m-3), and Prochlorococcus dominating in the oligotrophic Coral Sea where chlorophyll a averaged 0.13 ± 0.07 mg m-3. Consistent with previous microscopic and pigment-based observations, we found from sequence analysis that a variety of diatoms (Bacillariophyceae) exhibited high relative abundance in the Arafura Sea and Torres Strait, while dinoflagellates (Dinophyceae) and prymnesiophytes (Prymnesiophyceae) were more abundant in the Coral Sea. Ordination analysis identified temperature, nutrient concentrations and water depth as key drivers of the region’s assemblage composition. This is the first molecular and flow cytometric survey of the abundance and diversity of both prokaryotic and picoeukaryotic phytoplankton in this region, and points to the need to include the picocyanobacterial populations as an essential oceanic variable for sustained monitoring in order to better understand the health of these important coastal waters as global oceans change.

KW - eukaryotic phytoplankton

KW - marine cyanobacteria

KW - Australia

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