Morel Francois M. M.

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Francois M. M.

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  • Preprint
    Gross and net production during the spring bloom along the Western Antarctic Peninsula
    ( 2014-10) Goldman, Johanna A. L. ; Kranz, Sven A. ; Young, Jodi N. ; Tortell, Philippe D. ; Stanley, Rachel H. R. ; Bender, Michael L. ; Morel, Francois M. M.
    This study explores some of the physiological mechanisms responsible for high productivity near the shelf in the Western Antarctic Peninsula despite a short growing season and cold temperature. We measured gross and net primary production at Palmer Station during the summer 2012/2013 via three different techniques: 1) incubation with H218O; 2) incubation with 14CO2; and 3) in situ measurements of O2/Ar and triple oxygen isotope. Additional laboratory experiments were performed with the psychrophilic diatom Fragilariopsis cylindrus. During the spring bloom, which accounted for more than half of the seasonal gross production at Palmer Station, the ratio of net to gross production reached a maximum greater than ~60%, among the highest ever reported. The use of multiple-techniques showed that these high ratios resulted from low heterotrophic respiration and very low daylight autotrophic respiration. Laboratory experiments revealed a similar ratio of net to gross O2 production in F.cylindrus and provided the first experimental evidence for an important level of cyclic electron flow (CEF) in this organism. The low ratio of community respiration to gross primary production observed during the bloom at Palmer Station may be characteristic of high latitude coastal ecosystems and partially supported by a very active CEF in psychrophilic phytoplankton.
  • Article
    Nitrite oxidation exceeds reduction and fixed nitrogen loss in anoxic Pacific waters
    (Elsevier, 2020-08-20) Babbin, Andrew ; Buchwald, Carolyn ; Morel, Francois M. M. ; Wankel, Scott D. ; Ward, Bess B.
    The diversity of nitrogen-based dissimilatory metabolisms in anoxic waters continues to increase with additional studies to the marine oxygen deficient zones (ODZs). Although the microbial oxidation of nitrite (NO2–) has been known for over a century, studies of the pathways and microbes involved have generally proceeded under the assumption that nitrite oxidation to nitrate requires dioxygen (O2). Anaerobic NO2– oxidation until now has been conclusively shown only for anammox bacteria, albeit only as a limited sink for NO2– in their metabolism compared to the NO2– reduced to N2. Here, using direct experimental techniques optimized for replicating in situ anoxic conditions, we show that NO2– oxidation is substantial, widespread, and consistent across the ODZs of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. Regardless of the specific oxidant, NO2– oxidation rates are up to an order of magnitude larger than simultaneous N2 production rates for which these zones are known, and cannot be explained by anammox rates alone. Higher rates of NO2– oxidation over reduction in anoxic waters are paradoxical but help to explain how anammox rates can be enhanced over denitrification in shallow anoxic waters (σθ < 26.4) at the edge of the ODZs but not within the ODZ core. Furthermore, nitrite oxidation may be the key to reconciliation of the perceived imbalance of the global fixed nitrogen loss budget.
  • Article
    Overexpression and characterization of an iron storage and DNA-binding Dps protein from Trichodesmium erythraeum
    (American Society for Microbiology, 2006-04) Castruita, M. ; Saito, Mak A. ; Schottel, P. C. ; Elmegreen, L. A. ; Myneni, Satish C. B. ; Stiefel, E. I. ; Morel, Francois M. M.
    Although the role of iron in marine productivity has received a great deal of attention, no iron storage protein has been isolated from a marine microorganism previously. We describe an Fe-binding protein belonging to the Dps family (DNA binding protein from starved cells) in the N2-fixing marine cyanobacterium Trichodesmium erythraeum. A dps gene encoding a protein with significant levels of identity to members of the Dps family was identified in the genome of T. erythraeum. This gene codes for a putative DpsT. erythraeurm protein (Dpstery) with 69% primary amino acid sequence similarity to Synechococcus DpsA. We expressed and purified Dpstery, and we found that Dpstery, like other Dps proteins, is able to bind Fe and DNA and protect DNA from degradation by DNase. We also found that Dpstery binds phosphate, like other ferritin family proteins. Fe K near-edge X-ray absorption of Dpstery indicated that it has an iron core that resembles that of horse spleen ferritin.
  • Article
    Metabolic balance of coastal Antarctic waters revealed by autonomous pCO2 and ΔO2/Ar measurements
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2014-10-03) Tortell, Philippe D. ; Asher, Elizabeth C. ; Ducklow, Hugh W. ; Goldman, Johanna A. L. ; Dacey, John W. H. ; Grzymski, Joseph J. ; Young, Jodi N. ; Kranz, Sven A. ; Bernard, Kim S. ; Morel, Francois M. M.
    We use autonomous gas measurements to examine the metabolic balance (photosynthesis minus respiration) of coastal Antarctic waters during the spring/summer growth season. Our observations capture the development of a massive phytoplankton bloom and reveal striking variability in pCO2 and biological oxygen saturation (ΔO2/Ar) resulting from large shifts in community metabolism on time scales ranging from hours to weeks. Diel oscillations in surface gases are used to derive a high-resolution time series of net community production (NCP) that is consistent with 14C-based primary productivity estimates and with the observed seasonal evolution of phytoplankton biomass. A combination of physical mixing, grazing, and light availability appears to drive variability in coastal Antarctic NCP, leading to strong shifts between net autotrophy and heterotrophy on various time scales. Our approach provides insight into the metabolic responses of polar ocean ecosystems to environmental forcing and could be employed to autonomously detect climate-dependent changes in marine primary productivity.