Transcriptional response of Prochlorococcus to co-culture with a marine Alteromonas: Differences between strains and the involvement of putative infochemicals

Dikla Aharonovich, Daniel Sher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interactions between marine microorganisms may determine the dynamics of microbial communities. Here, we show that two strains of the globally abundant marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus, MED4 and MIT9313, which belong to two different ecotypes, differ markedly in their response to co-culture with a marine heterotrophic bacterium, Alteromonas macleodii strain HOT1A3. HOT1A3 enhanced the growth of MIT9313 at low cell densities, yet inhibited it at a higher concentration, whereas it had no effect on MED4 growth. The early transcriptomic responses of Prochlorococcus cells after 20 h in co-culture showed no evidence of nutrient starvation, whereas the expression of genes involved in photosynthesis, protein synthesis and stress responses typically decreased in MED4 and increased in MIT313. Differential expression of genes involved in outer membrane modification, efflux transporters and, in MIT9313, lanthipeptides (prochlorosins) suggests that Prochlorococcus mount a specific response to the presence of the heterotroph in the cultures. Intriguingly, many of the differentially-expressed genes encoded short proteins, including two new families of co-culture responsive genes: CCRG-1, which is found across the Prochlorococcus lineage and CCRG-2, which contains a sequence motif involved in the export of prochlorosins and other bacteriocin-like peptides, and are indeed released from the cells into the media.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2892-2906
Number of pages15
JournalISME Journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Parts of this research were conducted in the laboratory of Sallie Chisholm at MIT. We thank her and Allison Coe, Steve Biller and Andres Cubillos, as well as David Morgenstern, Assaf Malik, Ilia Burgsdorf, Dalit Rosenberg, Assaf Vardi, Eduard Fadeev and Noa Sher, for assistance and helpful comments on the manuscript. This study was supported by grant 2010183 from the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation and Microbes-2-Model from the European Union FP7 Marie Curie Reintegration program (to DS). Partial support for the work was also provided by the following grants to Sallie Chisholm from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (Grant award letters #495 and #495.01), the US National Science Foundation grant OCE-0425602 and the US Department of Energy grant DE-FG02-07ER64506.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 International Society for Microbial Ecology. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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