0000-0001-5212-6228 (Chappell)

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Publication Title

Frontiers in Marine Science




876830 (1-19)


The growth of diatoms in the Southern Ocean, especially the region surrounding the West Antarctic Peninsula, is frequently constrained by low dissolved iron and other trace metal concentrations. This challenge may be overcome by mutualisms between diatoms and co-occurring associated bacteria, in which diatoms produce organic carbon as a substrate for bacterial growth, and bacteria produce siderophores, metal-binding ligands that can supply diatoms with metals upon uptake as well as other useful secondary compounds for diatom growth like vitamins. To examine the relationships between diatoms and bacteria in the plankton (diatom) size class (> 3 mu m), we sampled both bacterial and diatom community composition with accompanying environmental metadata across a naturally occurring concentration gradient of macronutrients, trace metals and siderophores at 21 stations near the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP). Offshore Drake Passage stations had low dissolved iron (0.33 ± 0.15 nM), while the stations closer to the continental margin had higher dissolved iron (5.05 ± 1.83 nM). A similar geographic pattern was observed for macronutrients and most other trace metals measured, but there was not a clear inshore-offshore gradient in siderophore concentrations. The diatom and bacteria assemblages, determined using 18S and 16S rDNA sequencing respectively, were similar by location sampled, and variance in both assemblages was driven in part by concentrations of soluble reactive phosphorous, dissolved manganese, and dissolved copper, which were all higher near the continent. Some of the most common diatom sequence types observed were Thalassiosira and Fragilariopsis, and bacteria in the plankton size fraction were most commonly Bacteroidetes and Gammaproteobacteria. Network analysis showed positive associations between diatoms and bacteria, indicating possible in situ mutualisms through strategies such as siderophore and vitamin biosynthesis and exchange. This work furthers the understanding of how naturally occurring gradients of metals and nutrients influence diatom-bacteria interactions. Our data suggest that distinct groups of diatoms and associated bacteria are interacting under different trace metal regimes in the WAP, and that diatoms with different bacterial partners may have different modes of biologically supplied trace metals.


© 2023 Sterling, Holland, Bundy, Burns, Buck, Chappell and Jenkins.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

Data Availability

Article states: "The datasets presented in this study can be found in online repositories. The names of the repository/repositories and accession number(s) can be found below: Sequence data NCBI BioProject ID; PRJNA839781. Macronutrient and trace metal data is available from NSF Biological & Chemical Oceanography Data Management Office (BCO-DMO) (Buck et al., 2018; Buck et al., 2019; Chappell et al., 2022; Burns et al., 2023)."

Links to data as shown in article references are:

Buck et al., 2018: 10.1575/1912/bco-dmo.742819.1

Buck et al., 2019: 10.1575/1912/bco-dmo.781773.1

Chappell et al., 2022: 10.26008/1912/bco-dmo.740939.1

Original Publication Citation

Sterling, A. R., Holland, L. Z., Bundy, R. M., Burns, S. M., Buck, K. N., Chappell, P. D., & Jenkins, B. D. (2023). Potential interactions between diatoms and bacteria are shaped by trace element gradients in the Southern Ocean. Frontiers in Marine Science, 9, 1-19, Article 876830. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2022.876830


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