Co-culture and biogeography of Prochlorococcus and SAR11

The ISME Journal
Jamie W BeckerSallie W Chisholm


Prochlorococcus and SAR11 are among the smallest and most abundant organisms on Earth. With a combined global population of about 2.7 × 1028 cells, they numerically dominate bacterioplankton communities in oligotrophic ocean gyres and yet they have never been grown together in vitro. Here we describe co-cultures of Prochlorococcus and SAR11 isolates representing both high- and low-light adapted clades. We examined: (1) the influence of Prochlorococcus on the growth of SAR11 and vice-versa, (2) whether Prochlorococcus can meet specific nutrient requirements of SAR11, and (3) how co-culture dynamics vary when Prochlorococcus is grown with SAR11 compared with sympatric copiotrophic bacteria. SAR11 grew 15-70% faster in co-culture with Prochlorococcus, while the growth of the latter was unaffected. When Prochlorococcus populations entered stationary phase, this commensal relationship rapidly became amensal, as SAR11 abundances decreased dramatically. In parallel experiments with copiotrophic bacteria; however, the heterotrophic partner increased in abundance as Prochlorococcus densities leveled off. The presence of Prochlorococcus was able to meet SAR11's central requirement for organic carbon, but not reduced sulfur. Prochlorococc...Continue Reading


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Methods Mentioned

flow cytometry

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