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Laboratoire d'Océanographie Microbienne
UMR 7621

Highlight Publication

Use of plankton-derived vitamin B1 precursors, especially thiazole-related precursor, by key marine picoeukaryotic phytoplankton

R. W Paerl, F.-Y. Bouget, J-C. Lozano, V. Vergé,
P. Schatt, E. E. Allen, B. Palenik and F. Azam

The ISME Journal (2016)


Several cosmopolitan marine picoeukaryotic phytoplankton are B1 auxotrophs requiring exogenous vitamin B1 or precursor to survive. From genomic evidence, representatives of picoeukaryotic phytoplankton (Ostreococcus and Micromonas spp.) were predicted to use known thiazole and pyrimidine B1 precursors to meet their B1 demands, however, recent culture-based experiments could not confirm this assumption. We hypothesized these phytoplankton strains could grow on precursors alone, but required a thiazole-related precursor other the well-known and extensively tested 4-methyl-5-thiazoleethanol. This hypothesis was tested using bioassays and co-cultures of picoeukaryotic phytoplankton and bacteria. We found that specific B1-synthesizing proteobacteria and phytoplankton are sources of a yet-to-be chemically identified thiazole-related precursor(s) that, along with pyrimidine B1 precursor 4-amino-5-hydroxymethyl-2-methylpyrimidine, can support growth of Ostreococcus spp. (also Micromonas spp.) without B1. We additionally found that the B1-synthesizing plankton do not require contact with picoeukaryotic phytoplankton cells to produce thiazole-related precursor(s). Experiments with wild-type and genetically engineered Ostreococcus lines revealed that the thiazole kinase, ThiM, is required for growth on precursors, and that thiazolerelated precursor(s) accumulate to appreciable levels in the euphotic ocean. Overall, our results point to thiazole-related B1 precursors as important micronutrients promoting the survival of abundant phytoplankton influencing surface ocean production and biogeochemical cycling.


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