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Metabolites 2014, 4(2), 260-280; doi:10.3390/metabo4020260

Contrasting Strategies of Photosynthetic Energy Utilization Drive Lifestyle Strategies in Ecologically Important Picoeukaryotes

1
Department of Microbiology, Oregon State University; 220 Nash Hall, Corvallis, OR 97330, USA
2
Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University; 2082 Cordley hall, Corvallis, OR 97330, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 February 2014 / Revised: 9 April 2014 / Accepted: 23 April 2014 / Published: 29 April 2014
(This article belongs to the collection Metabolism in Phototrophic Prokaryotes and Algae)
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Abstract

The efficiency with which absorbed light is converted to net growth is a key property for estimating global carbon production. We previously showed that, despite considerable evolutionary distance, Dunaliella tertiolecta (Chlorophyceae) and Thalassiosira weissflogii (Bacillariophyceae) share a common strategy of photosynthetic energy utilization and nearly identical light energy conversion efficiencies. These findings suggested that a single model might be appropriate for describing relationships between measures of phytoplankton production. This conclusion was further evaluated for Ostreococcus tauri RCC1558 and Micromonas pusilla RCC299 (Chlorophyta, Prasinophyceae), two picoeukaryotes with contrasting geographic distributions and swimming abilities. Nutrient-dependent photosynthetic efficiencies in O. tauri were similar to the previously studied larger algae. Specifically, absorption-normalized gross oxygen and carbon production and net carbon production were independent of nutrient limited growth rate. In contrast, all measures of photosynthetic efficiency were strongly dependent on nutrient availability in M. pusilla. This marked difference was accompanied by a diminished relationship between Chla:C and nutrient limited growth rate and a remarkably greater efficiency of gross-to-net energy conversion than the other organisms studied. These results suggest that the cost-benefit of decoupling pigment concentration from nutrient availability enables motile organisms to rapidly exploit more frequent encounters with micro-scale nutrient patches in open ocean environments.
Keywords: phytoplankton; metabolism; motility; Micromonas pusilla; Ostreococcus tauri; photosynthesis; energy utilization; carbon allocation; partitioning; primary production phytoplankton; metabolism; motility; Micromonas pusilla; Ostreococcus tauri; photosynthesis; energy utilization; carbon allocation; partitioning; primary production
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Halsey, K.H.; Milligan, A.J.; Behrenfeld, M.J. Contrasting Strategies of Photosynthetic Energy Utilization Drive Lifestyle Strategies in Ecologically Important Picoeukaryotes. Metabolites 2014, 4, 260-280.

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