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AME 86:29-46 (2021)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ame01955

A phosphate starvation response gene ( psr1-like) is present and expressed in Micromonas pusilla and other marine algae

Cara L. Fiore1,3,*, Harriet Alexander2,4, Melissa C. Kido Soule1, Elizabeth B. Kujawinski1

1Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA
2MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography and Applied Ocean Sciences, Department of Biology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA
3Present address: Biology Department, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608, USA
4Present address: Department of Biology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Phosphorus (P) limits primary production in regions of the surface ocean, and many plankton species exhibit specific physiological responses to P deficiency. The metabolic response of Micromonas pusilla, an ecologically relevant marine photoautotroph, to P deficiency was investigated using metabolomics and comparative genomics. The concentrations of some intracellular metabolites were elevated in the P-deficient cells (e.g. xanthine, inosine), and genes involved in the associated metabolic pathways shared a predicted conserved amino acid motif in the non-coding regions of each gene. The presence of the conserved motif suggests that these genes may be co-regulated, and the motif may constitute a regulatory element for binding a transcription factor, specifically that of Psr1 (phosphate starvation response). A putative phosphate starvation response gene ( psr1-like) was identified in M. pusilla with homology to well characterized psr1/ phr1 genes in algae and plants, respectively. This gene appears to be present and expressed in other marine algal taxa (e.g. Emiliania huxleyi) in field sites that are chronically P limited. Results from the present study have implications for understanding phytoplankton taxon-specific roles in mediating P cycling in the ocean.


KEY WORDS: Micromonas pusilla · Phosphate stress response · Marine algae · Metabolomics · Dissolved organic matter · Biological oceanography


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Cite this article as: Fiore CL, Alexander H, Kido Soule MC, Kujawinski EB (2021) A phosphate starvation response gene ( psr1-like) is present and expressed in Micromonas pusilla and other marine algae. Aquat Microb Ecol 86:29-46. https://doi.org/10.3354/ame01955

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