Phosphite utilization by the marine picocyanobacterium Prochlorococcus MIT9301.

TitlePhosphite utilization by the marine picocyanobacterium Prochlorococcus MIT9301.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsMartínez, A, Osburne, MS, Sharma, AK, Delong, EF, Chisholm, SW
JournalEnviron Microbiol
Date Published2012 Jun
KeywordsBacteria, Micronutrients, NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases, Oceans and Seas, Phosphites, Phosphorus, Prochlorococcus, Trace Elements

Primary productivity in the ocean's oligotrophic regions is often limited by phosphorus (P) availability. In low phosphate environments, the prevalence of many genes involved in P acquisition is elevated, suggesting that the ability to effectively access diverse P sources is advantageous for organisms inhabiting these regions. Prochlorococcus, the numerically dominant primary producer in the oligotrophic ocean, encodes high-affinity P transporters, P regulatory proteins and enzymes for organic phosphate utilization, but its ability to use reduced P compounds has not been previously demonstrated. Because Prochlorococcus strain MIT9301 encodes genes similar to phnY and phnZ, which constitute a novel marine bacterial 2-aminoethylphosphonate (2-AEPn) utilization pathway, it has been suggested that this organism might use 2-AEPn as an alternative P source. We show here that although MIT9301 was unable to use 2-AEPn as a sole P source under standard culture conditions, it was able to use phosphite. Phosphite utilization by MIT9301 appears to be mediated by an NAD-dependent phosphite dehydrogenase encoded by ptxD. We show that phosphite utilization genes are present in diverse marine microbes and that their abundance is higher in low-P waters. These results strongly suggest that phosphite represents a previously unrecognized component of the marine P cycle.

Alternate JournalEnviron. Microbiol.
PubMed ID22004069