Giovannoni, Stephen J.


Publications (7)

Three-Dimensional Structure of the Ultraoligotrophic Marine Bacterium “Candidatus Pelagibacter ubique”

Citation
Zhao et al. (2017). Applied and Environmental Microbiology 83 (3)
Names
Ca. Pelagibacter ubique
Subjects
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology Biotechnology Ecology Food Science
Abstract
ABSTRACT SAR11 bacteria are small, heterotrophic, marine alphaproteobacteria found throughout the oceans. They thrive at the low nutrient concentrations typical of open ocean conditions, although the adaptations required for life under those conditions are not well understood. To illuminate this issue, we used cryo-electron tomography to study “ Candidatus Pelagibacter ubique” strain HTCC1062, a member of the SAR11 clade. Our results revealed its cellular dimensions and details of its intracellular organization. Frozen-hydrated cells, which were preserved in a life-like state, had an average cell volume (enclosed by the outer membrane) of 0.037 ± 0.011 μm 3 . Strikingly, the periplasmic space occupied ∼20% to 50% of the total cell volume in log-phase cells and ∼50% to 70% in stationary-phase cells. The nucleoid occupied the convex side of the crescent-shaped cells and the ribosomes predominantly occupied the concave side, at a relatively high concentration of 10,000 to 12,000 ribosomes/μm 3 . Outer membrane pore complexes, likely composed of PilQ, were frequently observed in both log-phase and stationary-phase cells. Long filaments, most likely type IV pili, were found on dividing cells. The physical dimensions, intracellular organization, and morphological changes throughout the life cycle of “ Ca. Pelagibacter ubique” provide structural insights into the functional adaptions of these oligotrophic ultramicrobacteria to their habitat. IMPORTANCE Bacterioplankton of the SAR11 clade ( Pelagibacterales ) are of interest because of their global biogeochemical significance and because they appear to have been molded by unusual evolutionary circumstances that favor simplicity and efficiency. They have adapted to an ecosystem in which nutrient concentrations are near the extreme limits at which transport systems can function adequately, and they have evolved streamlined genomes to execute only functions essential for life. However, little is known about the actual size limitations and cellular features of living oligotrophic ultramicrobacteria. In this study, we have used cryo-electron tomography to obtain accurate physical information about the cellular architecture of “ Candidatus Pelagibacter ubique,” the first cultivated member of the SAR11 clade. These results provide foundational information for answering questions about the cell architecture and functions of these ultrasmall oligotrophic bacteria.

Proteome Remodeling in Response to Sulfur Limitation in “ Candidatus Pelagibacter ubique”

Citation
Smith et al. (2016). mSystems 1 (4)
Names
Ca. Pelagibacter ubique
Subjects
Biochemistry Computer Science Applications Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics Genetics Microbiology Modelling and Simulation Molecular Biology Physiology
Abstract
“ Ca . Pelagibacter ubique” is a key driver of marine biogeochemistry cycles and a model for understanding how minimal genomes evolved in free-living anucleate organisms. This study explores the unusual sulfur acquisition strategy that has evolved in these cells, which lack assimilatory sulfate reduction and instead rely on reduced sulfur compounds found in oxic marine environments to meet their cellular quotas. Our findings demonstrate that the sulfur acquisition systems are constitutively expressed but the enzymatic steps leading to the essential sulfur-containing amino acid methionine are regulated by a unique array of riboswitches and genes, many of which are encoded in a rapidly evolving genome region. These findings support mounting evidence that streamlined cells have evolved regulatory mechanisms that minimize transcriptional switching and, unexpectedly, localize essential sulfur acquisition genes in a genome region normally associated with adaption to environmental variation.

Proteomic and Transcriptomic Analyses of “ Candidatus Pelagibacter ubique” Describe the First P II -Independent Response to Nitrogen Limitation in a Free-Living Alphaproteobacterium

Citation
Smith et al. (2013). mBio 4 (6)
Names
Ca. Pelagibacter ubique
Subjects
Microbiology Virology
Abstract
ABSTRACT Nitrogen is one of the major nutrients limiting microbial productivity in the ocean, and as a result, most marine microorganisms have evolved systems for responding to nitrogen stress. The highly abundant alphaproteobacterium “ Candidatus Pelagibacter ubique,” a cultured member of the order Pelagibacterales (SAR11), lacks the canonical GlnB, GlnD, GlnK, and NtrB/NtrC genes for regulating nitrogen assimilation, raising questions about how these organisms respond to nitrogen limitation. A survey of 266 Alphaproteobacteria genomes found these five regulatory genes nearly universally conserved, absent only in intracellular parasites and members of the order Pelagibacterales , including “ Ca . Pelagibacter ubique.” Global differences in mRNA and protein expression between nitrogen-limited and nitrogen-replete cultures were measured to identify nitrogen stress responses in “ Ca. Pelagibacter ubique” strain HTCC1062. Transporters for ammonium (AmtB), taurine (TauA), amino acids (YhdW), and opines (OccT) were all elevated in nitrogen-limited cells, indicating that they devote increased resources to the assimilation of nitrogenous organic compounds. Enzymes for assimilating amine into glutamine (GlnA), glutamate (GltBD), and glycine (AspC) were similarly upregulated. Differential regulation of the transcriptional regulator NtrX in the two-component signaling system NtrY/NtrX was also observed, implicating it in control of the nitrogen starvation response. Comparisons of the transcriptome and proteome supported previous observations of uncoupling between transcription and translation in nutrient-deprived “ Ca. Pelagibacter ubique” cells. Overall, these data reveal a streamlined, P II -independent response to nitrogen stress in “ Ca. Pelagibacter ubique,” and likely other Pelagibacterales , and show that they respond to nitrogen stress by allocating more resources to the assimilation of nitrogen-rich organic compounds. IMPORTANCE Pelagibacterales are extraordinarily abundant and play a pivotal role in marine geochemical cycles, as one of the major recyclers of labile dissolved organic matter. They are also models for understanding how streamlining selection can reshape chemoheterotroph metabolism. Streamlining and its broad importance to environmental microbiology are emerging slowly from studies that reveal the complete genomes of uncultured organisms. Here, we report another remarkable example of streamlined metabolism in Pelagibacterales , this time in systems that control nitrogen assimilation. Pelagibacterales are major contributors to metatranscriptomes and metaproteomes from ocean systems, where patterns of gene expression are used to gain insight into ocean conditions and geochemical cycles. The data presented here supply background that is essential to interpreting data from field studies.

Proteomic Analysis of Stationary Phase in the Marine Bacterium “ Candidatus Pelagibacter ubique”

Citation
Sowell et al. (2008). Applied and Environmental Microbiology 74 (13)
Names
Ca. Pelagibacter ubique
Subjects
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology Biotechnology Ecology Food Science
Abstract
ABSTRACT “ Candidatus Pelagibacter ubique,” an abundant marine alphaproteobacterium, subsists in nature at low ambient nutrient concentrations and may often be exposed to nutrient limitation, but its genome reveals no evidence of global regulatory mechanisms for adaptation to stationary phase. High-resolution capillary liquid chromatography coupled online to an LTQ mass spectrometer was used to build an accurate mass and time (AMT) tag library that enabled quantitative examination of proteomic differences between exponential- and stationary-phase “ Ca . Pelagibacter ubique” cells cultivated in a seawater medium. The AMT tag library represented 65% of the predicted protein-encoding genes. “ Ca . Pelagibacter ubique” appears to respond adaptively to stationary phase by increasing the abundance of a suite of proteins that contribute to homeostasis rather than undergoing a major remodeling of its proteome. Stationary-phase abundances increased significantly for OsmC and thioredoxin reductase, which may mitigate oxidative damage in “ Ca . Pelagibacter,” as well as for molecular chaperones, enzymes involved in methionine and cysteine biosynthesis, proteins involved in ρ-dependent transcription termination, and the signal transduction enzyme CheY-FisH. We speculate that this limited response may enable “ Ca . Pelagibacter ubique” to cope with ambient conditions that deprive it of nutrients for short periods and, furthermore, that the ability to resume growth overrides the need for a more comprehensive global stationary-phase response to create a capacity for long-term survival.