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From genes to ecological function in marine bacteria
Linnéuniversitetet, Institutionen för biologi och miljö (BOM). (EcoChange)
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Bacteria in the sea are constantly exposed to environmental challenges (e.g. variations in nutrient concentrations, temperature and light conditions), and therefore appropriate gene expression response strategies to cope with them efficiently are evolved. This thesis investigates some interconnected questions regarding such adaptive strategies employed by marine bacteria.

The recently discovered ability of bacteria to use the membrane protein proteorhodopsin (PR) to harvest light energy for cell metabolism were investigated in Vibrio sp. AND4 and Dokdonia sp. MED134. PR phototrophy in AND4 promoted survival during starvation, the molecular basis for which were the upregulation of the PR gene by nutrient limitation rather than light. MED134, in contrast, uses PR phototrophy to grow better, and we discovered that the light-stimulated growth was stronger in seawater with the single carbon compound alanine compared to a mixture of complex organic matter. Thus, differences between bacteria in PR gene expression regulation in response to light, nutrients or organic matter quality critically determine the ecological role of PR phototrophy in the sea.

Current observations that membrane transporters (including PR) are highly expressed in seawater inspired a comparative analysis of transporter distributions in marine bacteria. Totally, 192 transporter families were found in 290 genome-sequenced strains. Consistent differences, but also similarities, in the number of transporters were found between major bacterial groups. Interestingly, sodium transporters were found to be more abundant in PR-containing SAR11. These findings suggest that bacteria have inherently distinctive potentials to adapt to resource variations in the sea.

To examine links between transcriptional responses and growth of bacteria under controlled environmental settings, a mesocosm phytoplankton bloom experiment was performed. Transcriptional analysis of the microbial community (i.e. metatranscriptomics) revealed 2800 categories of functional genes (SEED functions), of which around 10% were overrepresented in either the bloom mesocosms or the controls. Importantly, these functions indicated potential metabolic mechanisms (e.g. TonB mediated nutrient transport) by which bacteria took advantage of the bloom conditions.

This thesis combines analyses of model organisms with community analysis and highlights the possibilities to identify important mechanisms that underlie the ecological success of different bacteria in the marine environment. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Växjö, Kalmar: Linnaeus University Press , 2013. , 49 p.
Series
Linnaeus University Dissertations, 139
National Category
Microbiology
Research subject
Ecology, Microbiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-139452ISBN: 978-91-87427-34-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-139452DiVA: diva2:1140820
Public defence
2013-06-13, Hörsalen Fullriggaren, Landgången 4, Kalmar, 09:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-11-10 Created: 2017-09-13 Last updated: 2017-09-14Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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