Nitrate Consumers in Arctic Marine Eukaryotic Communities: Comparative Diversities of 18S rRNA, 18S rRNA Genes, and Nitrate Reductase Genes.


Québec-Océan, Université Laval, Québec, Quebec, Canada [Email]


For photosynthetic microbial eukaryotes, the rate-limiting step in NO3- assimilation is its reduction to nitrite (NO2-), which is catalyzed by assimilatory nitrate reductase (NR). Oceanic productivity is primarily limited by available nitrogen and, although nitrate is the most abundant form of available nitrogen in oceanic waters, little is known about the identity of microbial eukaryotes that take up nitrate. This lack of knowledge is especially severe for ice-covered seas that are being profoundly affected by climate change. To address this, we examined the distribution and diversity of NR genes in the Arctic region by way of clone libraries and data mining of available metagenomes (total of 4.24 billion reads). We directly compared NR clone phylogenies with the V4 region of the 18S rRNA gene (DNA pool) and 18S rRNA (RNA pool) at two ice-influenced stations in the Canada Basin (Beaufort Sea). The communities from the two nucleic acid templates were similar at the level of major groups, and species identified by way of NR gene phylogeny and microscopy were a subset of the 18S results. Most NR genes from arctic clone libraries matched diatoms and chromist nanoflagellates, including novel clades, while the NR genes in arctic eukaryote metagenomes were dominated by chlorophyte NR, in keeping with the ubiquitous occurrence of Mamiellophyceae in the Arctic Ocean. Overall, these data suggest that a dynamic and mixed eukaryotic community utilizes nitrate across the Arctic region, and they show the potential utility of NR as a tool to identify ongoing changes in arctic photosynthetic communities.IMPORTANCE To better understand the diversity of primary producers in the Arctic Ocean, we targeted a nitrogen cycle gene, NR, which is required for phytoplankton to assimilate nitrate into organic forms of nitrogen macromolecules. We compared this to the more detailed taxonomy from ice-influenced stations using a general taxonomic gene (18S rRNA). NR genes were ubiquitous and could be classified as belonging to diatoms, dinoflagellates, other flagellates, chlorophytes, and unknown microbial eukaryotes, suggesting novel diversity of both species and metabolism in arctic phytoplankton.


Arctic,amplicon sequencing,chlorophytes,diatoms,metagenomes,nitrate reductase,