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Not all phytoplankton in the ocean need to take their vitamins
Date:8/29/2014

growth rate. They were growing equally well," Worden says.

It was the discovery of a surprising biological mechanism that led the researchers toward this new understanding of thiamine. Genetic analysis had revealed 31 new eukaryotic riboswitches, which are segments of RNA that operate like mechanical switches to turn genes on or off. The researchers then found, unexpectedly, that the riboswitches were tied to genes of unknown function, not genes known to be connected with the production of thiamine. Further testing revealed these organisms didn't only have a taste for thiamine they liked HMP too.

"Our study shows that conclusions regarding the importance of vitamin B1 in regulating algal communities need to be re-evaluated," Worden says.

This is the second recent study to find that vitamin B1 is less important than previously thought. Another paper in The ISME Journal published this August by Stephen Giovannoni's lab at Oregon State University found that the most abundant strain of bacteria in the ocean, SAR11, grows well in an environment with HMP but not with thiamine alone.

Biochemistry suggests HMP should be more stable than thiamine in the environment, but researchers must next investigate how plentiful the molecule is in the open ocean. Understanding how phytoplankton survive is crucial for predicting how climate change could alter the Earth's marine ecosystem; for example, as the supply of vitamins in the ocean depletes. Phytoplankton take up carbon dioxide and eventually sink to the bottom of the ocean, which makes their growth a major factor in how much carbon remains in the atmosphere.

"If you want to model the global carbon cycle and you're putting into the equation that external sources of this vitamin are needed and critical for certain algae (based on prior reports), that its availability shapes which phytoplankton will grow, your predictions will be incorrect," Worden says.

She says this
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Contact: Lindsay Jolivet
lindsay.jolivet@cifar.ca
416-971-4876
Canadian Institute for Advanced Research
Source:Eurekalert  

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