Light and depth dependency of nitrogen fixation by the non‐photosynthetic, symbiotic cyanobacterium UCYN‐A
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AuthorsGradoville, Mary R.; Cabello, A.M. (Ana María); Wilson, Samuel T.; Turk-Kubo, Kendra A.; Karl David, M.; Zehr, Jonathan P.
The symbiotic cyanobacterium UCYN-A is one of the most globally abundant marine dinitrogen (N2)-fixers, but cultures have not been available and its biology and ecology are poorly understood. We used cultivation-independent approaches to investigate how UCYN-A single-cell N2 fixation rates (NFRs) and nifH gene expression vary as a function of depth and photoperiod. Twelve-hour day/night incubations showed that UCYN-A only fixed N2 during the day. Experiments conducted using in situ arrays showed a light-dependence of NFRs by the UCYN-A symbiosis, with the highest rates in surface waters (5–45 m) and lower rates at depth (≥ 75 m). Analysis of NFRs versus in situ light intensity yielded a light saturation parameter (Ik) for UCYN-A of 44 μmol quanta m−2 s−1. This is low compared with other marine diazotrophs, suggesting an ecological advantage for the UCYN-A symbiosis under low-light conditions. In contrast to cell-specific NFRs, nifH gene-specific expression levels did not vary with depth, ...
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