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      Picoeukaryotes of the Micromonas genus: sentinels of a warming ocean

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          Photosynthetic picoeukaryotesx in the genus Micromonas show among the widest latitudinal distributions on Earth, experiencing large thermal gradients from poles to tropics. Micromonas comprises at least four different species often found in sympatry. While such ubiquity might suggest a wide thermal niche, the temperature response of the different strains is still unexplored, leaving many questions as for their ecological success over such diverse ecosystems. Using combined experiments and theory, we characterize the thermal response of eleven Micromonas strains belonging to four species. We demonstrate that the variety of specific responses to temperature in the Micromonas genus makes this environmental factor an ideal marker to describe its global distribution and diversity. We then propose a diversity model for the genus Micromonas, which proves to be representative of the whole phytoplankton diversity. This prominent primary producer is therefore a sentinel organism of phytoplankton diversity at the global scale. We use the diversity within Micromonas to anticipate the potential impact of global warming on oceanic phytoplankton. We develop a dynamic, adaptive model and run forecast simulations, exploring a range of adaptation time scales, to probe the likely responses to climate change. Results stress how biodiversity erosion depends on the ability of organisms to adapt rapidly to temperature increase.

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          Most cited references 46

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          Prochlorococcus is the numerically dominant phytoplankter in the oligotrophic oceans, accounting for up to half of the photosynthetic biomass and production in some regions. Here, we describe how the abundance of six known ecotypes, which have small subunit ribosomal RNA sequences that differ by less than 3%, changed along local and basin-wide environmental gradients in the Atlantic Ocean. Temperature was significantly correlated with shifts in ecotype abundance, and laboratory experiments confirmed different temperature optima and tolerance ranges for cultured strains. Light, nutrients, and competitor abundances also appeared to play a role in shaping different distributions.
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            Popular de novo amplicon clustering methods suffer from two fundamental flaws: arbitrary global clustering thresholds, and input-order dependency induced by centroid selection. Swarm was developed to address these issues by first clustering nearly identical amplicons iteratively using a local threshold, and then by using clusters’ internal structure and amplicon abundances to refine its results. This fast, scalable, and input-order independent approach reduces the influence of clustering parameters and produces robust operational taxonomic units.
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              Green evolution and dynamic adaptations revealed by genomes of the marine picoeukaryotes Micromonas.

              Picoeukaryotes are a taxonomically diverse group of organisms less than 2 micrometers in diameter. Photosynthetic marine picoeukaryotes in the genus Micromonas thrive in ecosystems ranging from tropical to polar and could serve as sentinel organisms for biogeochemical fluxes of modern oceans during climate change. These broadly distributed primary producers belong to an anciently diverged sister clade to land plants. Although Micromonas isolates have high 18S ribosomal RNA gene identity, we found that genomes from two isolates shared only 90% of their predicted genes. Their independent evolutionary paths were emphasized by distinct riboswitch arrangements as well as the discovery of intronic repeat elements in one isolate, and in metagenomic data, but not in other genomes. Divergence appears to have been facilitated by selection and acquisition processes that actively shape the repertoire of genes that are mutually exclusive between the two isolates differently than the core genes. Analyses of the Micromonas genomes offer valuable insights into ecological differentiation and the dynamic nature of early plant evolution.

                Author and article information

                The ISME Journal
                ISME J
                Springer Nature America, Inc
                August 16 2018
                © 2018



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