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Environ Microbiol. 2010 Jul;12(7):1899-912. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2010.02195.x. Epub 2010 Mar 19.

Regulation of nitrogen metabolism in the marine diazotroph Trichodesmium IMS101 under varying temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

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The Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, 52900, Israel.


We examined the influence of forecasted changes in global temperatures and pCO(2) on N(2) fixation and assimilation in the ecologically important cyanobacterium Trichodesmium spp. Changes of mRNA transcripts (nifH, glnA, hetR, psbA, psaB), protein (nitrogenase, glutamine synthetase) pools and enzymatic activity (nitrogenase) were measured under varying pCO(2) and temperatures. High pCO(2) shifted transcript patterns of all genes, resulting in a more synchronized diel expression. Under the same conditions, we did not observe any significant changes in the protein pools or in total cellular allocations of carbon and nitrogen (i.e. C : N ratio remained stable). Independently of temperature, high pCO(2) (900 microatm) elevated N(2) fixation rates. Levels of the key enzymes, nitrogenase and glutamine synthetase that mediate nitrogen assimilation did not increase, implying that the high pCO(2) allowed higher reaction turnover rates through these key enzymes. Moreover, increased temperatures and high pCO(2) resulted in higher C : P ratios. The plasticity in phosphorous stoichiometry combined with higher enzymatic efficiencies lead to higher growth rates. In cyanobacteria photosynthesis, carbon uptake, respiration, N(2) fixation and nitrogen assimilation share cellular components. We propose that shifted cellular resource and energy allocation among those components will enable Trichodesmium grown at elevated temperatures and pCO(2) to extend its niche in the future ocean, through both tolerance of a broader temperature range and higher P plasticity.

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