Marine microbial intact polar diacylglycerolipids and their application in the study of nutrient stress and bacterial production

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Popendorf, Kimberly J.
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Sargasso Sea
North Pacific
North Atlantic
Mediterranean Sea
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Microbial ecology
Microbiological chemistry
Atlantic Exploer (Ship) Cruise BV39
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Intact polar diacylglycerolipids (IP-DAGs) were used to study microbial dynamics in the surface ocean. IP-DAGs from surface ocean seawater were quantified using high performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS), after first developing a sensitive, high throughput molecular ion independent triple quadrupole MS method for quantification. Using this analytical technique I examined the distribution of the nine most abundant classes of IPDAGs across the Mediterranean, and found that phospholipids as a percent of total IP-DAGs correlated with phosphate concentration. Furthermore, phospholipids were a higher percent of total particulate phosphorus where phosphate was higher, ranging from 1-14%. Thus IP-DAGs can play not only a significant but also a dynamic role in defining planktonic nutrient needs and cellular C:N:P ratios in the environment. Additionally, microcosm incubations were amended with phosphate and ammonium, and in the course of several days this elicited a shift in the ratios of IP-DAGs. This study was the first to demonstrate the dynamic response of membrane lipid composition to changes in nutrients in a natural, mixed planktonic community, and indicated that the change in IP-DAG ratios in response to changing nutrients may be a useful indicator of microbial nutrient stress. In the surface waters of the western North Atlantic I used three experimental approaches to identify the microbial sources of the nine most abundant classes of IP-DAGs. Phytoplankton are the primary source of one class of sulfolipid, sulfoquinovosyldiacylglycerol, and one class of betaine lipid, diacylglyceryl-trimethyl-homoserine, while heterotrophic bacteria are the dominant source of the phospholipids phosphatidylglycerol and phosphatidylethanolamine. In regrowth experiments in the Sargasso Sea and the North Pacific I demonstrated that phospholipid specific production rate is representative of heterotrophic bacterial cell specific growth rate. I measured phospholipid specific production rate and bacterial production rate using uptake of 3H-leucine (3H-Leu) and 3H-thymidine (3H-TdR) across the North Atlantic, across the Mediterranean, and in the North Pacific subtropical gyre. I found that phospholipid specific production rates estimate heterotrophic bacterial cell specific growth rates that are on the order of 1 per day, an order of magnitude faster than cell specific growth rates suggested by uptake of 3H-Leu and 3H-TdR.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution February 2013
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Popendorf, K. J. (2013). Marine microbial intact polar diacylglycerolipids and their application in the study of nutrient stress and bacterial production [Doctoral thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution]. Woods Hole Open Access Server.
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