Programmed cell death in diazotrophs and the fate of organic matter in the western tropical South Pacific Ocean during the OUTPACE cruise

Abstract : The fate of diazotroph (N 2 fixers) derived carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) and their contribution to vertical export of C and N in the western tropical South Pacific Ocean was studied during OUTPACE (Oligotrophy to UlTra-oligotrophy PACific Experiment). Our specific objective during OUTPACE was to determine whether autocatalytic programmed cell death (PCD), occurring in some diazotrophs, is an important mechanism affecting diazotroph mortality and a factor regulating the vertical flux of organic matter and, thus, the fate of the blooms. We sampled at three long duration (LD) stations of 5 days each (LDA, LDB and LDC) where drifting sediment traps were deployed at 150, 325 and 500 m depth. LDA and LDB were characterized by high chlorophyll a (Chl a) concentrations (0.2–0.6 µg L −1) and dominated by dense biomass of the filamentous cyanobac-terium Trichodesmium as well as UCYN-B and diatom– diazotroph associations (Rhizosolenia with Richelia-detected by microscopy and het-1 nifH copies). Station LDC was located at an ultra-oligotrophic area of the South Pacific gyre with extremely low Chl a concentration (∼ 0.02 µg L −1) with limited biomass of diazotrophs predominantly the unicellu-lar UCYN-B. Our measurements of biomass from LDA and LDB yielded high activities of caspase-like and metacas-pase proteases that are indicative of PCD in Trichodesmium and other phytoplankton. Metacaspase activity, reported here for the first time from oceanic populations, was highest at the surface of both LDA and LDB, where we also obtained high concentrations of transparent exopolymeric particles (TEP). TEP were negatively correlated with dissolved inorganic phosphorus and positively coupled to both the dissolved and particulate organic carbon pools. Our results reflect the increase in TEP production under nutrient stress and its role as a source of sticky carbon facilitating aggregation and rapid vertical sinking. Evidence for bloom decline was observed at both LDA and LDB. However, the physiological status and rates of decline of the blooms differed between the stations, influencing the amount of accumulated diazotrophic organic matter and mass flux observed in the traps during our experimental time frame. At LDA sediment traps contained the greatest export of particulate matter and significant numbers of both intact and decaying Trichodesmium, UCYN-B and het-1 compared to LDB where the bloom decline began only 2 days prior to leaving the station and to LDC where no evidence for bloom or bloom decline was seen. Substantiating previous findings from laboratory cultures linking PCD to carbon export in Trichodesmium, our results from OUT-Published by Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union. 3894 D. Spungin et al.: Programmed cell death in diazotrophs and the fate of organic matter PACE indicate that nutrient limitation may induce PCD in high biomass blooms such as displayed by Trichodesmium or diatom–diazotroph associations. Furthermore, PCD combined with high TEP production will tend to facilitate cellular aggregation and bloom termination and will expedite vertical flux to depth.
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Dina Spungin, Natalia Belkin, Rachel Foster, Marcus Stenegren, Andrea Caputo, et al.. Programmed cell death in diazotrophs and the fate of organic matter in the western tropical South Pacific Ocean during the OUTPACE cruise. Biogeosciences, European Geosciences Union, 2018, 15 (12), pp.3893 - 3908. ⟨10.5194/bg-15-3893-2018⟩. ⟨hal-01840045⟩

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