Ecological genomics of the newly discovered diazotrophic filamentous cyanobacterium ESFC-1

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Craig Everroad1, Brad Bebout1, Leslie E. Bebout1, Angela M Detweiler1, Jackson Lee1, Xavier Mayali2, Steven W Singer3, Rhona Stuart2, Peter K Weber2, Dagmar Woebken4 and Jennifer Pett-Ridge5, (1)NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, United States, (2)Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA, United States, (3)Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, United States, (4)University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria, (5)Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Chemical Sciences Division, Livermore, CA, United States
Cyanobacteria-dominated microbial mats played a key role in the evolution of the early Earth and provide a model for exploring the relationships between ecology, evolution and biogeochemistry. A recently described nonheterocystous filamentous cyanobacterium, strain ESFC-1, has been shown to be a major diazotroph year round in the intertidal microbial mat system at Elkhorn Slough, CA, USA. Based on phylogenetic analyses of the 16s RNA gene, ESFC-1 appears to belong to a unique, genus-level divergence within the cyanobacteria. Consequently, the draft genome sequence of this strain has been determined. Here we report features of this genome, particularly as they relate to the ecological functions and capabilities of strain ESFC-1. One striking feature of this cyanobacterium is the apparent lack of a functional bi-directional hydrogenase typically expected to be found within a diazotroph; consortia- and culture-based experiments exploring the metabolic processes of ESFC-1 also indicate that this hydrogenase is absent. Co-culture studies with ESFC-1 and some of the dominant heterotrophic members within the microbial mat system, including the ubiquitous Flavobacterium Muricauda sp., which often is found associated with cyanobacteria in nature and in culture collections worldwide, have also been performed. We report on these species-species interactions, including materials exchange between the cyanobacterium and heterotrophic bacterium. The combination of genomics with culture- and consortia-based experimental research is a powerful tool for understanding microbial processes and interactions in complex ecosystems.