Bacterial quorum-sensing signal arrests phytoplankton cell division and impacts virus-induced mortality
Pollara, Scott B.
Becker, Jamie W.
Nunn, Brook L.
Boiteau, Rene M.
Repeta, Daniel J.
Mudge, Miranda C.
Harvey, Elizabeth L.
Whalen, Kristen E.
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Interactions between phytoplankton and heterotrophic bacteria fundamentally shape marine ecosystems by controlling primary production, structuring marine food webs, mediating carbon export, and influencing global climate. Phytoplankton-bacterium interactions are facilitated by secreted compounds; however, linking these chemical signals, their mechanisms of action, and their resultant ecological consequences remains a fundamental challenge. The bacterial quorum-sensing signal 2-heptyl-4-quinolone (HHQ) induces immediate, yet reversible, cellular stasis (no cell division or mortality) in the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi; however, the mechanism responsible remains unknown. Using transcriptomic and proteomic approaches in combination with diagnostic biochemical and fluorescent cell-based assays, we show that HHQ exposure leads to prolonged S-phase arrest in phytoplankton coincident with the accumulation of DNA damage and a lack of repair despite the induction of the DNA damage response (DDR). While this effect is reversible, HHQ-exposed phytoplankton were also protected from viral mortality, ascribing a new role of quorum-sensing signals in regulating multitrophic interactions. Furthermore, our data demonstrate that in situ measurements of HHQ coincide with areas of enhanced micro- and nanoplankton biomass. Our results suggest bacterial communication signals as emerging players that may be one of the contributing factors that help structure complex microbial communities throughout the ocean.
© The Author(s), 2021. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Pollara, S. B., Becker, J. W., Nunn, B. L., Boiteau, R., Repeta, D., Mudge, M. C., Downing, G., Chase, D., Harvey, E. L., & Whalen, K. E. Bacterial quorum-sensing signal arrests phytoplankton cell division and impacts virus-induced mortality. Msphere, 6(3), (2021): e00009-21, https://doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00009-21.
Suggested CitationPollara, S. B., Becker, J. W., Nunn, B. L., Boiteau, R., Repeta, D., Mudge, M. C., Downing, G., Chase, D., Harvey, E. L., & Whalen, K. E. (2021). Bacterial quorum-sensing signal arrests phytoplankton cell division and impacts virus-induced mortality. Msphere, 6(3), e00009-21.
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