Niche partitioning and biogeography of high light adapted Prochlorococcus across taxonomic ranks in the North Pacific.
The distribution of major clades of Prochlorococcus tracks light, temperature and other environmental variables; yet, the drivers of genomic diversity within these ecotypes and the net effect on biodiversity of the larger community are poorly understood. We examined high light (HL) adapted Prochlorococcus communities across spatial and temporal environmental gradients in the Pacific Ocean to determine the ecological drivers of population structure and diversity across taxonomic ranks. We show that the Prochlorococcus community has the highest diversity at low latitudes, but seasonality driven by temperature, day length and nutrients adds complexity. At finer taxonomic resolution, some 'sub-ecotype' clades have unique, cohesive responses to environmental variables and distinct biogeographies, suggesting that presently defined ecotypes can be further partitioned into ecologically meaningful units. Intriguingly, biogeographies of the HL-I sub-ecotypes are driven by unique combinations of environmental traits, rather than through trait hierarchy, while the HL-II sub-ecotypes appear ecologically similar, thus demonstrating differences among these dominant HL ecotypes. Examining biodiversity across taxonomic ranks reveals high-resolution dynamics of Prochlorococcus evolution and ecology that are masked at phylogenetically coarse resolution. Spatial and seasonal trends of Prochlorococcus communities suggest that the future ocean may be comprised of different populations, with implications for ecosystem structure and function.
Larkin, AA; Blinebry, SK; Howes, C; Lin, Y; Loftus, SE; Schmaus, CA; Zinser, ER; Johnson, ZI
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