Zettler Erik R.

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Erik R.

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  • Technical Report
    Cruise Report C-139A : a report on the academic & scientific activities of the Oceanography of the Gulf of Maine Program; sea component, 22 June to 1 July 1995, island component, 1 July 1995 to 9 July 1995
    (SEA Education Association, 1995-07) Zettler, Erik R.
    The Sea Component of Cruise C-139A began in Woods Hole Massachusetts and ended ten days later on Appledore Island Maine. This report is a summary of the accomplishments and discoveries during the cruise. During this short time, we sailed over 600 nautical miles and saw a remarkable diversity of marine habitats. Environments we studied ranged from oligotrophic tropical open ocean water in a warm core eddy of the Gulf Stream, to the rich and productive waters over Georges Bank. After investigating these areas and the Gulf of Maine, students spent nine days at Shoals Marine Laboratory on Appledore Island, where Dr. Nadine Folino introduced us all to the spectacular rocky intertidal environment. Oceanography and Nautical Science lectures, presented each day to supplement and expand upon the research program..
  • Article
    The biogeography of the Plastisphere : implications for policy
    (Ecological Society of America, 2015-12) Amaral-Zettler, Linda A. ; Zettler, Erik R. ; Slikas, Beth ; Boyd, Gregory D. ; Melvin, Donald W. ; Morrall, Clare E. ; Proskurowski, Giora ; Mincer, Tracy J.
    Microplastics (particles less than 5 mm) numerically dominate marine debris and occur from coastal waters to mid-ocean gyres, where surface circulation concentrates them. Given the prevalence of plastic marine debris (PMD) and the rise in plastic production, the impacts of plastic on marine ecosystems will likely increase. Microscopic life (the “Plastisphere”) thrives on these tiny floating “islands” of debris and can be transported long distances. Using next-generation DNA sequencing, we characterized bacterial communities from water and plastic samples from the North Pacific and North Atlantic subtropical gyres to determine whether the composition of different Plastisphere communities reflects their biogeographic origins. We found that these communities differed between ocean basins – and to a lesser extent between polymer types – and displayed latitudinal gradients in species richness. Our research reveals some of the impacts of microplastics on marine biodiversity, demonstrates that the effects and fate of PMD may vary considerably in different parts of the global ocean, and suggests that PMD mitigation will require regional management efforts.
  • Article
    Influence of Central Pacific oceanographic conditions on the potential vertical habitat of four tropical tuna species
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2015-10) Deary, Alison L. ; Moret-Ferguson, Skye E. ; Engels, Mary ; Zettler, Erik R. ; Jaroslow, Gary E. ; Sancho, Gorka
    Climate change has resulted in the geographic and vertical expansion of oxygen minimum zones but their impact on the vertical distribution of commercially important species, such as tunas, is not well understood. Although La Niña events are characterized by increased upwelling along the equator, the increased primary productivity and bacterial proliferation drive the expansion of oxygen minimum zones. Vertical habitat of four tropical tuna species were characterized using direct observations of the oceanographic conditions of the Central Pacific Ocean during the 2008 La Niña event and existing primary literature on temperature and dissolved oxygen physiological tolerances for these tunas. Concentrations of potential prey were estimated using Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler raw backscatter and surface zooplankton tows. Based on the oceanographic conditions observed from February to June, low dissolved oxygen levels, more so than low temperatures, were inferred to restrict the predicted vertical habitat of four commercially important tuna species (bigeye, yellowfin, skipjack, and albacore). During peak La Niña conditions, temperature and dissolved oxygen tolerance limits of all four tuna species were reached at approximately 200m. Zooplankton and myctophid fish densities peaked in the upper 200m between 0° N and 5° N, which corresponded to a region with a shallow thermocline (150 m). Our findings suggest the possibility that competition and susceptibility to surface fishing gears may be increased for tropical tunas during a strong La Niña event due to vertical habitat restrictions.
  • Preprint
    Distribution and seasonal variability in the benthic eukaryotic community of Río Tinto (SW, Spain), an acidic, high metal extreme environment
    ( 2007-02-14) Aguilera, Angeles ; Zettler, Erik R. ; Gomez, Felipe ; Amaral-Zettler, Linda A. ; Rodríguez, Nuria ; Amils, Ricardo
    The eukaryotic community of Río Tinto (SW, Spain) was surveyed fall, winter, and spring through the combined use of traditional microscopy and molecular approaches including Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (DGGE) and sequence analysis of 18S rRNA gene fragments. We compared eukaryotic assemblages of surface sediment biofilms collected in January, May and September 2002 from 13 sampling stations along the river. Physicochemical data revealed extremely acidic conditions (pH ranged from 0.9 to 2.5) with high concentrations of heavy metals including up to 20 g l-1 Fe, 317 mg l-1 Zn, 47 mg l-1 As, 42 mg l-1 Cd, and 4 mg l-1 Ni. In total, 20 taxa were identified, including members of the Bacillariophyta, Chlorophyta, and Euglenophyta phyla as well as ciliates, cercomonads, amoebae, stramenopiles, fungi, heliozoan and rotifers. In general, total cell abundances were highest in fall and spring decreasing drastically in winter and the sampling stations with the most extreme conditions showed the lowest number of cells as well as the lowest diversity. Species diversity does not vary much during the year. Only the filamentous algae showed a dramatic seasonal change almost disappearing in winter and reaching the highest biomass during the summer. PCA showed a high inverse correlation between pH and most of the heavy metals analyzed as well as Dunaliella sp., while Chlamydomonas sp. is directly related to pH during May and September. Three heavy metals (Zn, Cu and Ni) remained separate from the rest and showed an inverse correlation with most of the species analyzed except for Dunaliella sp.
  • Article
    Distribution of surface plastic debris in the eastern Pacific Ocean from an 11-Year data set
    (American Chemical Society, 2014-04-07) Lavender Law, Kara L. ; Moret-Ferguson, Skye E. ; Goodwin, Deborah S. ; Zettler, Erik R. ; DeForce, Emelia A. ; Kukulka, Tobias ; Proskurowski, Giora
    We present an extensive survey of floating plastic debris in the eastern North and South Pacific Oceans from more than 2500 plankton net tows conducted between 2001 and 2012. From these data we defined an accumulation zone (25 to 41°N, 130 to 180°W) in the North Pacific subtropical gyre that closely corresponds to centers of accumulation resulting from the convergence of ocean surface currents predicted by several oceanographic numerical models. Maximum plastic concentrations from individual surface net tows exceeded 106 pieces km–2, with concentrations decreasing with increasing distance from the predicted center of accumulation. Outside the North Pacific subtropical gyre the median plastic concentration was 0 pieces km–2. We were unable to detect a robust temporal trend in the data set, perhaps because of confounded spatial and temporal variability. Large spatiotemporal variability in plastic concentration causes order of magnitude differences in summary statistics calculated over short time periods or in limited geographic areas. Utilizing all available plankton net data collected in the eastern Pacific Ocean (17.4°S to 61.0°N; 85.0 to 180.0°W) since 1999, we estimated a minimum of 21 290 t of floating microplastic.
  • Article
    Prokaryotic community structure in algal photosynthetic biofilms from extreme acidic streams in Rio Tinto (Huelva, Spain)
    (Spanish Society for Microbiology (SEM), 2008-12) Souza-Egipsy, Virginia ; Gonzalez-Toril, Elena ; Zettler, Erik R. ; Amaral-Zettler, Linda A. ; Aguilera, Angeles ; Amils, Ricardo
    Four algal photosynthetic biofilms were collected from the Rio Tinto (SW Spain) at four localities: AG, Euglena and Pinnularia biofilms; ANG, Chlorella and Pinnularia biofilms; RI, Cyanidium and Dunaliella biofilms; and CEM, Cyanidium, Euglena and Pinnularia biofilms. Community composition and structure were studied by a polyphasic approach consisting of 16S rRNA analysis, scanning electron microscopy by back-scattered electron detection mode (SEM-BSE), and fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH). Acidophilic prokaryotes associated with algal photosynthetic biofilms included sequences related to the Alpha-, Beta-, and Gammaproteobacteria (phylum Proteobacteria) and to the phyla Nitrospira, Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria and Firmicutes. Sequences from the Archaea domain were also identified. No more than seven distinct lineages were detected in any biofilm, except for those from RI, which contained fewer groups of Bacteria. Prokaryotic communities of the thinnest algal photosynthetic biofilms (<100 μm) were more related to those in the water column, including Leptospirillum populations. In general, thick biofilms (>200 μm) generate microniches that could facilitate the development of less-adapted microorganisms (coming from the surrounding environment) to extreme conditions, thus resulting in a more diverse prokaryotic biofilm.
  • Article
    Oligotyping reveals community level habitat selection within the genus Vibrio
    (Frontiers Media, 2014-11-13) Schmidt, Victor T. ; Reveillaud, Julie ; Zettler, Erik R. ; Mincer, Tracy J. ; Murphy, Leslie G. ; Amaral-Zettler, Linda A.
    The genus Vibrio is a metabolically diverse group of facultative anaerobic bacteria, common in aquatic environments and marine hosts. The genus contains several species of importance to human health and aquaculture, including the causative agents of human cholera and fish vibriosis. Vibrios display a wide variety of known life histories, from opportunistic pathogens to long-standing symbionts with individual host species. Studying Vibrio ecology has been challenging as individual species often display a wide range of habitat preferences, and groups of vibrios can act as socially cohesive groups. Although strong associations with salinity, temperature and other environmental variables have been established, the degree of habitat or host specificity at both the individual and community levels is unknown. Here we use oligotyping analyses in combination with a large collection of existing Vibrio 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene sequence data to reveal patterns of Vibrio ecology across a wide range of environmental, host, and abiotic substrate associated habitats. Our data show that individual taxa often display a wide range of habitat preferences yet tend to be highly abundant in either substrate-associated or free-living environments. Our analyses show that Vibrio communities share considerable overlap between two distinct hosts (i.e., sponge and fish), yet are distinct from the abiotic plastic substrates. Lastly, evidence for habitat specificity at the community level exists in some habitats, despite considerable stochasticity in others. In addition to providing insights into Vibrio ecology across a broad range of habitats, our study shows the utility of oligotyping as a facile, high-throughput and unbiased method for large-scale analyses of publically available sequence data repositories and suggests its wide application could greatly extend the range of possibilities to explore microbial ecology.
  • Article
    Comparative mitochondrial and chloroplast genomics of a genetically distinct form of Sargassum contributing to recent “Golden Tides” in the Western Atlantic
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2016-12-20) Amaral-Zettler, Linda A. ; Dragone, Nicholas B. ; Schell, Jeffrey M. ; Slikas, Beth ; Murphy, Leslie G. ; Morrall, Clare E. ; Zettler, Erik R.
    Over the past 5 years, massive accumulations of holopelagic species of the brown macroalga Sargassum in coastal areas of the Caribbean have created “golden tides” that threaten local biodiversity and trigger economic losses associated with beach deterioration and impact on fisheries and tourism. In 2015, the first report identifying the cause of these extreme events implicated a rare form of the holopelagic species Sargassum natans (form VIII). However, since the first mention of S. natans VIII in the 1930s, based solely on morphological characters, no molecular data have confirmed this identification. We generated full-length mitogenomes and partial chloroplast genomes of all representative holopelagic Sargassum species, S. fluitans III and S. natans I alongside the putatively rare S. natans VIII, to demonstrate small but consistent differences between S. natans I and VIII (7 bp differences out of the 34,727). Our comparative analyses also revealed that both S. natans I and S. natans VIII share a very close phylogenetic relationship with S. fluitans III (94- and 96-bp differences of 34,727). We designed novel primers that amplified regions of the cox2 and cox3 marker genes with consistent polymorphic sites that enabled differentiation between the two S. natans forms (I and VIII) from each other and both from S. fluitans III in over 150 Sargassum samples including those from the 2014 golden tide event. Despite remarkable gene synteny and sequence conservation, the three Sargassum forms differ in morphology, ecology, and distribution patterns, warranting more extensive interrogation of holopelagic Sargassum genomes as a whole.
  • Article
    Science under sail : ocean science education program combines traditional vessels with state-of-the-art technology
    (Oceanography Society, 2004-09) Bower, Amy S. ; Zettler, Erik R. ; Gawarkiewicz, Glen G.
    Sea Education Association (SEA), located in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, offers introductory oceanographic instruction in the classroom and hands-on research training at sea to create a unique educational experience for undergraduate students and other groups. Founded by Corwith Cramer in 1971, SEA has been taking students to sea for over 30 years, first on the 125-foot research vessel R/V Westward, and now on two custom-built Sailing School Vessels, the 134-foot steel brigantines SSV Corwith Cramer and SSV Robert C. Seamans. SEA vessels have sailed over 800,000 miles in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and educated over 7,000 students in oceanography, nautical science, and in maritime history, literature, and policy. This article describes recent developments and opportunities in oceanographic education and research at SEA.
  • Article
    Plastics select for distinct early colonizing microbial populations with reproducible traits across environmental gradients
    (Applied Microbiology International, 2023-05-03) Bos, Ryan P. ; Kaul, Drishti ; Zettler, Erik R. ; Hoffman, Jeffrey M. ; Dupont, Christopher L. ; Amaral-Zettler, Linda A. ; Mincer, Tracy J
    Little is known about early plastic biofilm assemblage dynamics and successional changes over time. By incubating virgin microplastics along oceanic transects and comparing adhered microbial communities with those of naturally occurring plastic litter at the same locations, we constructed gene catalogues to contrast the metabolic differences between early and mature biofilm communities. Early colonization incubations were reproducibly dominated by Alteromonadaceae and harboured significantly higher proportions of genes associated with adhesion, biofilm formation, chemotaxis, hydrocarbon degradation and motility. Comparative genomic analyses among the Alteromonadaceae metagenome assembled genomes (MAGs) highlighted the importance of the mannose-sensitive hemagglutinin (MSHA) operon, recognized as a key factor for intestinal colonization, for early colonization of hydrophobic plastic surfaces. Synteny alignments of MSHA also demonstrated positive selection for mshA alleles across all MAGs, suggesting that mshA provides a competitive advantage for surface colonization and nutrient acquisition. Large-scale genomic characteristics of early colonizers varied little, despite environmental variability. Mature plastic biofilms were composed of predominantly Rhodobacteraceae and displayed significantly higher proportions of carbohydrate hydrolysis enzymes and genes for photosynthesis and secondary metabolism. Our metagenomic analyses provide insight into early biofilm formation on plastics in the ocean and how early colonizers self-assemble, compared to mature, phylogenetically and metabolically diverse biofilms.
  • Article
    Sargasso Sea Vibrio bacteria: underexplored potential pathovars in a perturbed habitat
    (Elsevier, 2023-08-10) Mincer, Tracy J. ; Bos, Ryan P. ; Zettler, Erik R. ; Zhao, Shiye ; Asbun, Alejandro A. ; Orsi, William D. ; Guzzetta, Vincent S. ; Amaral-Zettler, Linda A.
    We fully sequenced the genomes of 16 Vibrio cultivars isolated from eel larvae, plastic marine debris (PMD), the pelagic brown macroalga Sargassum, and seawater samples collected from the Caribbean and Sargasso Seas of the North Atlantic Ocean. Annotation and mapping of these 16 bacterial genome sequences to a PMD-derived Vibrio metagenome-assembled genome created for this study showcased vertebrate pathogen genes closely-related to cholera and non-cholera pathovars. Phenotype testing of cultivars confirmed rapid biofilm formation, hemolytic, and lipophospholytic activities, consistent with pathogenic potential. Our study illustrates that open ocean vibrios represent a heretofore undescribed group of microbes, some representing potential new species, possessing an amalgam of pathogenic and low nutrient acquisition genes, reflecting their pelagic habitat and the substrates and hosts they colonize.