Acker Marianne

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  • Article
    Iron depletion in the deep chlorophyll maximum: mesoscale eddies as natural iron fertilization experiments
    (American Geophysical Union, 2021-11-17) Hawco, Nicholas J. ; Barone, Benedetto ; Church, Matthew J. ; Babcock-Adams, Lydia ; Repeta, Daniel J. ; Wear, Emma K. ; Foreman, Rhea K. ; Björkman, Karin M. ; Bent, Shavonna M. ; Van Mooy, Benjamin A. S. ; Sheyn, Uri ; DeLong, Edward F. ; Acker, Marianne ; Kelly, Rachel L. ; Nelson, Alexa ; Ranieri, John ; Clemente, Tara M. ; Karl, David M. ; John, Seth G.
    In stratified oligotrophic waters, phytoplankton communities forming the deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM) are isolated from atmospheric iron sources above and remineralized iron sources below. Reduced supply leads to a minimum in dissolved iron (dFe) near 100 m, but it is unclear if iron limits growth at the DCM. Here, we propose that natural iron addition events occur regularly with the passage of mesoscale eddies, which alter the supply of dFe and other nutrients relative to the availability of light, and can be used to test for iron limitation at the DCM. This framework is applied to two eddies sampled in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Observations in an anticyclonic eddy center indicated downwelling of iron-rich surface waters, leading to increased dFe at the DCM but no increase in productivity. In contrast, uplift of isopycnals within a cyclonic eddy center increased supply of both nitrate and dFe to the DCM, and led to dominance of picoeukaryotic phytoplankton. Iron addition experiments did not increase productivity in either eddy, but significant enhancement of leucine incorporation in the light was observed in the cyclonic eddy, a potential indicator of iron stress among Prochlorococcus. Rapid cycling of siderophores and low dFe:nitrate uptake ratios also indicate that a portion of the microbial community was stressed by low iron. However, near-complete nitrate drawdown in this eddy, which represents an extreme case in nutrient supply compared to nearby Hawaii Ocean Time-series observations, suggests that recycling of dFe in oligotrophic ecosystems is sufficient to avoid iron limitation in the DCM under typical conditions.
  • Article
    Phosphonate production by marine microbes: exploring new sources and potential function
    (National Academy of Sciences, 2022-03-07) Acker, Marianne ; Hogle, Shane L. ; Berube, Paul M. ; Hackl, Thomas ; Coe, Allison ; Stepanauskas, Ramunas ; Chisholm, Sallie W. ; Repeta, Daniel J.
    Phosphonates are organophosphorus metabolites with a characteristic C-P bond. They are ubiquitous in the marine environment, their degradation broadly supports ecosystem productivity, and they are key components of the marine phosphorus (P) cycle. However, the microbial producers that sustain the large oceanic inventory of phosphonates as well as the physiological and ecological roles of phosphonates are enigmatic. Here, we show that phosphonate synthesis genes are rare but widely distributed among diverse bacteria and archaea, including Prochlorococcus and SAR11, the two major groups of bacteria in the ocean. In addition, we show that Prochlorococcus can allocate over 40% of its total cellular P-quota toward phosphonate production. However, we find no evidence that Prochlorococcus uses phosphonates for surplus P storage, and nearly all producer genomes lack the genes necessary to degrade and assimilate phosphonates. Instead, we postulate that phosphonates are associated with cell-surface glycoproteins, suggesting that phosphonates mediate ecological interactions between the cell and its surrounding environment. Our findings indicate that the oligotrophic surface ocean phosphonate pool is sustained by a relatively small fraction of the bacterioplankton cells allocating a significant portion of their P quotas toward secondary metabolism and away from growth and reproduction.
  • Thesis
    Phosphonate biogeochemical cycling in the marine environment: from an ocean scale to a molecular scale
    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2021-06) Acker, Marianne ; Repeta, Daniel J.
    The existence of a marine phosphorus (P) redox cycle was recently confirmed when phosphonates, organophosphorus compounds with P in the (III) oxidation state, were found in high molecular weight dissolved organic matter. Although some features of the P redox cycle have come to light since the discovery of phosphonates, many aspects of phosphonate production, cycling and fate remain unknown. To address these gaps in our understanding, we studied phosphonate cycling in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, a chronically P-limited basin, using 33P and enzymatic assays. We showed that phosphonate production was low but consumption was high, suggesting that phosphonate production and consumption may be spatially or temporally decoupled. We also explored phosphonate production in the model marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus SB. Using 31P NMR, we found Prochlorococcus SB allocates ~50% of its cellular P to phosphonates. Allocation of P to phosphonates was conserved under P-limitation, and further investigation revealed phosphonates were associated with proteins. The discovery of phosphonoproteins in Prochlorococcus SB opens new perspectives on the biochemical function of phosphonates and their role in P-cycling. Finally, we developed a new P-targeted method to characterize marine organophosphorus compounds using liquid chromatography coupled to electrospray ionization and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry.