Stewart Frank J.

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Frank J.

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  • Article
    Microbial eukaryote diversity in the marine oxygen minimum zone off northern Chile
    (Frontiers Media, 2014-10-28) Parris, Darren J. ; Ganesh, Sangita ; Edgcomb, Virginia P. ; DeLong, Edward F. ; Stewart, Frank J.
    Molecular surveys are revealing diverse eukaryotic assemblages in oxygen-limited ocean waters. These communities may play pivotal ecological roles through autotrophy, feeding, and a wide range of symbiotic associations with prokaryotes. We used 18S rRNA gene sequencing to provide the first snapshot of pelagic microeukaryotic community structure in two cellular size fractions (0.2–1.6 μm, >1.6 μm) from seven depths through the anoxic oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) off northern Chile. Sequencing of >154,000 amplicons revealed contrasting patterns of phylogenetic diversity across size fractions and depths. Protist and total eukaryote diversity in the >1.6 μm fraction peaked at the chlorophyll maximum in the upper photic zone before declining by ~50% in the OMZ. In contrast, diversity in the 0.2–1.6 μm fraction, though also elevated in the upper photic zone, increased four-fold from the lower oxycline to a maximum at the anoxic OMZ core. Dinoflagellates of the Dinophyceae and endosymbiotic Syndiniales clades dominated the protist assemblage at all depths (~40–70% of sequences). Other protist groups varied with depth, with the anoxic zone community of the larger size fraction enriched in euglenozoan flagellates and acantharean radiolarians (up to 18 and 40% of all sequences, respectively). The OMZ 0.2–1.6 μm fraction was dominated (11–99%) by Syndiniales, which exhibited depth-specific variation in composition and total richness despite uniform oxygen conditions. Metazoan sequences, though confined primarily to the 1.6 μm fraction above the OMZ, were also detected within the anoxic zone where groups such as copepods increased in abundance relative to the oxycline and upper OMZ. These data, compared to those from other low-oxygen sites, reveal variation in OMZ microeukaryote composition, helping to identify clades with potential adaptations to oxygen-depletion.
  • Article
    Metatranscriptional response of chemoautotrophic Ifremeria nautilei endosymbionts to differing sulfur regimes
    (Frontiers Media, 2016-07-19) Seston, Sherry L. ; Beinart, Roxanne A. ; Sarode, Neha ; Shockey, Abigail C. ; Ranjan, Piyush ; Ganesh, Sangita ; Girguis, Peter R. ; Stewart, Frank J.
    Endosymbioses between animals and chemoautotrophic bacteria are ubiquitous at hydrothermal vents. These environments are distinguished by high physico-chemical variability, yet we know little about how these symbioses respond to environmental fluctuations. We therefore examined how the γ-proteobacterial symbionts of the vent snail Ifremeria nautilei respond to changes in sulfur geochemistry. Via shipboard high-pressure incubations, we subjected snails to 105 μM hydrogen sulfide (LS), 350 μM hydrogen sulfide (HS), 300 μM thiosulfate (TS) and seawater without any added inorganic electron donor (ND). While transcript levels of sulfur oxidation genes were largely consistent across treatments, HS and TS treatments stimulated genes for denitrification, nitrogen assimilation, and CO2 fixation, coincident with previously reported enhanced rates of inorganic carbon incorporation and sulfur oxidation in these treatments. Transcripts for genes mediating oxidative damage were enriched in the ND and LS treatments, potentially due to a reduction in O2 scavenging when electron donors were scarce. Oxidative TCA cycle gene transcripts were also more abundant in ND and LS treatments, suggesting that I. nautilei symbionts may be mixotrophic when inorganic electron donors are limiting. These data reveal the extent to which I. nautilei symbionts respond to changes in sulfur concentration and species, and, interpreted alongside coupled biochemical metabolic rates, identify gene targets whose expression patterns may be predictive of holobiont physiology in environmental samples.