Jimenez Valeria

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  • Article
    Seasonal and geographical transitions in eukaryotic phytoplankton community structure in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
    (Frontiers Media, 2020-09-30) Choi, Chang Jae ; Jimenez, Valeria ; Needham, David M. ; Poirier, Camille ; Bachy, Charles ; Alexander, Harriet ; Wilken, Susanne ; Chavez, Francisco P. ; Sudek, Sebastian ; Giovannoni, Stephen J. ; Worden, Alexandra Z.
    Much is known about how broad eukaryotic phytoplankton groups vary according to nutrient availability in marine ecosystems. However, genus- and species-level dynamics are generally unknown, although important given that adaptation and acclimation processes differentiate at these levels. We examined phytoplankton communities across seasonal cycles in the North Atlantic (BATS) and under different trophic conditions in the eastern North Pacific (ENP), using phylogenetic classification of plastid-encoded 16S rRNA amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) and other methodologies, including flow cytometric cell sorting. Prasinophytes dominated eukaryotic phytoplankton amplicons during the nutrient-rich deep-mixing winter period at BATS. During stratification (‘summer’) uncultured dictyochophytes formed ∼35 ± 10% of all surface plastid amplicons and dominated those from stramenopile algae, whereas diatoms showed only minor, ephemeral contributions over the entire year. Uncultured dictyochophytes also comprised a major fraction of plastid amplicons in the oligotrophic ENP. Phylogenetic reconstructions of near-full length 16S rRNA sequences established 11 uncultured Dictyochophyte Environmental Clades (DEC). DEC-I and DEC-VI dominated surface dictyochophytes under stratification at BATS and in the ENP, and DEC-IV was also important in the latter. Additionally, although less common at BATS, Florenciella-related clades (FC) were prominent at depth in the ENP. In both ecosystems, pelagophytes contributed notably at depth, with PEC-VIII (Pelagophyte Environmental Clade) and (cultured) Pelagomonas calceolata being most important. Q-PCR confirmed the near absence of P. calceolata at the surface of the same oligotrophic sites where it reached ∼1,500 18S rRNA gene copies ml–1 at the DCM. To further characterize phytoplankton present in our samples, we performed staining and at-sea single-cell sorting experiments. Sequencing results from these indicated several uncultured dictyochophyte clades are comprised of predatory mixotrophs. From an evolutionary perspective, these cells showed both conserved and unique features in the chloroplast genome. In ENP metatranscriptomes we observed high expression of multiple chloroplast genes as well as expression of a selfish element (group II intron) in the psaA gene. Comparative analyses across the Pacific and Atlantic sites support the conclusion that predatory dictyochophytes thrive under low nutrient conditions. The observations that several uncultured dictyochophyte lineages are seemingly capable of photosynthesis and predation, raises questions about potential shifts in phytoplankton trophic roles associated with seasonality and long-term ocean change.
  • Article
    Eukaryotic algal community composition in tropical environments from solar salterns to the open sea
    (Frontiers Media, 2023-06-29) Eckmann, Charlotte A. ; Eberle, Jessica S. ; Wittmers, Fabian ; Wilken, Susanne ; Bergauer, Kristin ; Poirier, Camille ; Blum, Marguerite ; Makareviciute-Fichtner, Kriste ; Jimenez, Valeria ; Bachy, Charles ; Vermeij, Mark J. A. ; Worden, Alexandra Z.
    Tropical environments with unique abiotic and biotic factors—such as salt ponds, mangroves, and coral reefs—are often in close proximity. The heterogeneity of these environments is reflected in community shifts over short distances, resulting in high biodiversity. While phytoplankton assemblages physically associated with corals, particularly their symbionts, are well studied, less is known about phytoplankton diversity across tropical aquatic environments. We assess shifts in phytoplankton community composition along inshore to offshore gradients by sequencing and analyzing 16S rRNA gene amplicons using primers targeting the V1-V2 region that capture plastids from eukaryotic phytoplankton and cyanobacteria, as well as heterotrophic bacteria. Microbial alpha diversity computed from 16S V1-V2 amplicon sequence variant (ASV) data from 282 samples collected in and around Curaçao, in the Southern Caribbean Sea, varied more within the dynamic salt ponds, salterns, and mangroves, compared to the seemingly stable above-reef, off-reef, and open sea environments. Among eukaryotic phytoplankton, stramenopiles often exhibited the highest relative abundances in mangrove, above-reef, off-reef, and open sea environments, where cyanobacteria also showed high relative abundances. Within stramenopiles, diatom amplicons dominated in salt ponds and mangroves, while dictyochophytes and pelagophytes prevailed above reefs and offshore. Green algae and cryptophytes were also present, and the former exhibited transitions following the gradient from inland to offshore. Chlorophytes and prasinophyte Class IV dominated in salt ponds, while prasinophyte Class II, including Micromonas commoda and Ostreococcus Clade OII, had the highest relative abundances of green algae in mangroves, above-reef, off-reef, and the open sea. To improve Class II prasinophyte classification, we sequenced 18S rRNA gene amplicons from the V4 region in 41 samples which were used to interrelate plastid-based results with information on uncultured prasinophyte species from prior 18S rRNA gene-based studies. This highlighted the presence of newly described Ostreococcus bengalensis and two Micromonas candidate species. Network analyses identified co-occurrence patterns between individual phytoplankton groups, including cyanobacteria, and heterotrophic bacteria. Our study reveals multiple uncultured and novel lineages within green algae and dictyochophytes in tropical marine habitats. Collectively, the algal diversity patterns and potential co-occurrence relationships observed in connection to physicochemical and spatial influences help provide a baseline against which future change can be assessed.
  • Article
    The Bay of Bengal exposes abundant photosynthetic picoplankton and newfound diversity along salinity‐driven gradients.
    (Wiley, 2023-06-13) Strauss, Jan ; Choi, Chang Jae ; Grone, Jonathan ; Wittmers, Fabian ; Jimenez, Valeria ; Makareviciute-Fichtner, Kriste ; Bachy, Charles ; Spiro Jaeger, Gualtiero ; Poirier, Camille ; Eckmann, Charlotte A. ; Spezzano, Rachele ; Loscher, Carolin R. ; Sarma, V. V. S. S. ; Mahadevan, Amala ; Worden, Alexandra Z.
    The Bay of Bengal (BoB) is a 2,600,000 km2 expanse in the Indian Ocean upon which many humans rely. However, the primary producers underpinning food chains here remain poorly characterized. We examined phytoplankton abundance and diversity along strong BoB latitudinal and vertical salinity gradients—which have low temperature variation (27–29°C) between the surface and subsurface chlorophyll maximum (SCM). In surface waters, Prochlorococcus averaged 11.7 ± 4.4 × 104 cells ml−1, predominantly HLII, whereas LLII and ‘rare’ ecotypes, HLVI and LLVII, dominated in the SCM. Synechococcus averaged 8.4 ± 2.3 × 104 cells ml−1 in the surface, declined rapidly with depth, and population structure of dominant Clade II differed between surface and SCM; Clade X was notable at both depths. Across all sites, Ostreococcus Clade OII dominated SCM eukaryotes whereas communities differentiated strongly moving from Arabian Sea-influenced high salinity (southerly; prasinophytes) to freshwater-influenced low salinity (northerly; stramenopiles, specifically, diatoms, pelagophytes, and dictyochophytes, plus the prasinophyte Micromonas) surface waters. Eukaryotic phytoplankton peaked in the south (1.9 × 104 cells ml−1, surface) where a novel Ostreococcus was revealed, named here Ostreococcus bengalensis. We expose dominance of a single picoeukaryote and hitherto ‘rare’ picocyanobacteria at depth in this complex ecosystem where studies suggest picoplankton are replacing larger phytoplankton due to climate change.
  • Article
    Choanoflagellates alongside diverse uncultured predatory protists consume the abundant open-ocean cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus.
    (National Academy of Sciences, 2023-06-26) Wilken, Susanne ; Yung, Charmaine C.M. ; Poirier, Camille ; Massana, Ramon ; Jimenez, Valeria ; Worden, Alexandra Z.
    Prochlorococcus is a key member of open-ocean primary producer communities. Despite its importance, little is known about the predators that consume this cyanobacterium and make its biomass available to higher trophic levels. We identify potential predators along a gradient wherein Prochlorococcus abundance increased from near detection limits (coastal California) to >200,000 cells mL−1 (subtropical North Pacific Gyre). A replicated RNA-Stable Isotope Probing experiment involving the in situ community, and labeled Prochlorococcus as prey, revealed choanoflagellates as the most active predators of Prochlorococcus, alongside a radiolarian, chrysophytes, dictyochophytes, and specific MAST lineages. These predators were not appropriately highlighted in multiyear conventional 18S rRNA gene amplicon surveys where dinoflagellates and other taxa had highest relative amplicon abundances across the gradient. In identifying direct consumers of Prochlorococcus, we reveal food-web linkages of individual protistan taxa and resolve routes of carbon transfer from the base of marine food webs.