Distribution analysis of hydrogenases in surface waters of marine and freshwater environments.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Surface waters of aquatic environments have been shown to both evolve and consume hydrogen and the ocean is estimated to be the principal natural source. In some marine habitats, H(2) evolution and uptake are clearly due to biological activity, while contributions of abiotic sources must be considered in others. Until now the only known biological process involved in H(2) metabolism in marine environments is nitrogen fixation. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We analyzed marine and freshwater environments for the presence and distribution of genes of all known hydrogenases, the enzymes involved in biological hydrogen turnover. The total genomes and the available marine metagenome datasets were searched for hydrogenase sequences. Furthermore, we isolated DNA from samples from the North Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea, North Sea, Baltic Sea, and two fresh water lakes and amplified and sequenced part of the gene encoding the bidirectional NAD(P)-linked hydrogenase. In 21% of all marine heterotrophic bacterial genomes from surface waters, one or several hydrogenase genes were found, with the membrane-bound H(2) uptake hydrogenase being the most widespread. A clear bias of hydrogenases to environments with terrestrial influence was found. This is exemplified by the cyanobacterial bidirectional NAD(P)-linked hydrogenase that was found in freshwater and coastal areas but not in the open ocean. SIGNIFICANCE: This study shows that hydrogenases are surprisingly abundant in marine environments. Due to its ecological distribution the primary function of the bidirectional NAD(P)-linked hydrogenase seems to be fermentative hydrogen evolution. Moreover, our data suggests that marine surface waters could be an interesting source of oxygen-resistant uptake hydrogenases. The respective genes occur in coastal as well as open ocean habitats and we presume that they are used as additional energy scavenging devices in otherwise nutrient limited environments. The membrane-bound H(2)-evolving hydrogenases might be useful as marker for bacteria living inside of marine snow particles.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Hydrogenases catalyze the simplest of all chemical reactions: the reduction of protons to molecular hydrogen or vice versa. Cyanobacteria can express an uptake, a bidirectional or both NiFe-hydrogenases. Maturation of those depends on accessory proteins encoded by hyp-genes. The last maturation step involves the cleavage of a ca. 30 amino acid long peptide from the large subunit by a C-terminal endopeptidase. Until know, nothing is known about the maturation of cyanobacterial NiFe-hydrogenases. The availability of three complete cyanobacterial genome sequences from strains with either only the uptake (Nostoc punctiforme ATCC 29133/PCC 73102), only the bidirectional (Synechocystis PCC 6803) or both NiFe-hydrogenases (Anabaena PCC 7120) prompted us to mine these genomes for hydrogenase maturation related genes. In this communication we focus on the presence and the expression of the NiFe-hydrogenases and the corresponding C-terminal endopeptidases, in the three strains mentioned above. RESULTS: We identified genes encoding putative cyanobacterial hydrogenase specific C-terminal endopeptidases in all analyzed cyanobacterial genomes. The genes are not part of any known hydrogenase related gene cluster. The derived amino acid sequences show only low similarity (28-41%) to the well-analyzed hydrogenase specific C-terminal endopeptidase HybD from Escherichia coli, the crystal structure of which is known. However, computational secondary and tertiary structure modeling revealed the presence of conserved structural patterns around the highly conserved active site. Gene expression analysis shows that the endopeptidase encoding genes are expressed under both nitrogen-fixing and non-nitrogen-fixing conditions. CONCLUSION: Anabaena PCC 7120 possesses two NiFe-hydrogenases and two hydrogenase specific C-terminal endopeptidases but only one set of hyp-genes. Thus, in contrast to the Hyp-proteins, the C-terminal endopeptidases are the only known hydrogenase maturation factors that are specific. Therefore, in accordance with previous nomenclature, we propose the gene names hoxW and hupW for the bidirectional and uptake hydrogenase processing endopeptidases, respectively. Due to their constitutive expression we expect that, at least in cyanobacteria, the endopeptidases take over multiple functions.
Project description:Structural genes coding for two membrane-associated NiFe hydrogenases in the phototrophic purple sulfur bacterium Thiocapsa roseopersicina (hupSL and hynSL) have recently been isolated and characterized. Deletion of both hydrogenase structural genes did not eliminate hydrogenase activity in the cells, and considerable hydrogenase activity was detected in the soluble fraction. The enzyme responsible for this activity was partially purified, and the gene cluster coding for a cytoplasmic, NAD+-reducing NiFe hydrogenase was identified and sequenced. The deduced gene products exhibited the highest similarity to the corresponding subunits of the cyanobacterial bidirectional soluble hydrogenases (HoxEFUYH). The five genes were localized on a single transcript according to reverse transcription-PCR experiments. A sigma54-type promoter preceded the gene cluster, suggesting that there was inducible expression of the operon. The Hox hydrogenase was proven to function as a truly bidirectional hydrogenase; it produced H2 under nitrogenase-repressed conditions, and it recycled the hydrogen produced by the nitrogenase in cells fixing N2. In-frame deletion of the hoxE gene eliminated hydrogen evolution derived from the Hox enzyme in vivo, although it had no effect on the hydrogenase activity in vitro. This suggests that HoxE has a hydrogenase-related role; it likely participates in the electron transfer processes. This is the first example of the presence of a cyanobacterial-type, NAD+-reducing hydrogenase in a phototrophic bacterium that is not a cyanobacterium. The potential physiological implications are discussed.
Project description:Thiomicrospira species are ubiquitously found in various marine environments and appear particularly common in hydrothermal vent systems. Members of this lineage are commonly classified as sulfur-oxidizing chemolithoautotrophs. Although sequencing of Thiomicrospira crunogena's genome has revealed genes that encode enzymes for hydrogen uptake activity and for hydrogenase maturation and assembly, hydrogen uptake ability has so far not been reported for any Thiomicrospira species. We isolated a Thiomicrospira species (SP-41) from a deep sea hydrothermal vent and demonstrated that it can oxidize hydrogen. We show in vivo hydrogen consumption, hydrogen uptake activity in partially purified protein extracts and transcript abundance of hydrogenases during different growth stages. The ability of this strain to oxidize hydrogen opens up new perspectives with respect to the physiology of Thiomicrospira species that have been detected in hydrothermal vents and that have so far been exclusively associated with sulfur oxidation.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The last step in the maturation process of the large subunit of [NiFe]-hydrogenases is a proteolytic cleavage of the C-terminal by a hydrogenase specific protease. Contrary to other accessory proteins these hydrogenase proteases are believed to be specific whereby one type of hydrogenases specific protease only cleaves one type of hydrogenase. In cyanobacteria this is achieved by the gene product of either hupW or hoxW, specific for the uptake or the bidirectional hydrogenase respectively. The filamentous cyanobacteria Nostoc punctiforme ATCC 29133 and Nostoc sp strain PCC 7120 may contain a single uptake hydrogenase or both an uptake and a bidirectional hydrogenase respectively. RESULTS: In order to examine these proteases in cyanobacteria, transcriptional analyses were performed of hupW in Nostoc punctiforme ATCC 29133 and hupW and hoxW in Nostoc sp. strain PCC 7120. These studies revealed numerous transcriptional start points together with putative binding sites for NtcA (hupW) and LexA (hoxW). In order to investigate the diversity and specificity among hydrogeanse specific proteases we constructed a phylogenetic tree which revealed several subgroups that showed a striking resemblance to the subgroups previously described for [NiFe]-hydrogenases. Additionally the proteases specificity was also addressed by amino acid sequence analysis and protein-protein docking experiments with 3D-models derived from bioinformatic studies. These studies revealed a so called "HOXBOX"; an amino acid sequence specific for protease of Hox-type which might be involved in docking with the large subunit of the hydrogenase. CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that the hydrogenase specific proteases are under similar regulatory control as the hydrogenases they cleave. The result from the phylogenetic study also indicates that the hydrogenase and the protease have co-evolved since ancient time and suggests that at least one major horizontal gene transfer has occurred. This co-evolution could be the result of a close interaction between the protease and the large subunit of the [NiFe]-hydrogenases, a theory supported by protein-protein docking experiments performed with 3D-models. Finally we present data that may explain the specificity seen among hydrogenase specific proteases, the so called "HOXBOX"; an amino acid sequence specific for proteases of Hox-type. This opens the door for more detailed studies of the specificity found among hydrogenase specific proteases and the structural properties behind it.
Project description:Hydrogen is an important trace gas in the atmosphere. Soil microorganisms are known to be an important part of the biogeochemical H2 cycle, contributing 80 to 90% of the annual hydrogen uptake. Different aquatic ecosystems act as either sources or sinks of hydrogen, but the contribution of their microbial communities is unknown. [NiFe]-hydrogenases are the best candidates for hydrogen turnover in these environments since they are able to cope with oxygen. As they lack sufficiently conserved sequence motifs, reliable markers for these enzymes are missing, and consequently, little is known about their environmental distribution. We analyzed the essential maturation genes of [NiFe]-hydrogenases, including their frequency of horizontal gene transfer, and found hypD to be an applicable marker for the detection of the different known hydrogenase groups. Investigation of two freshwater lakes showed that [NiFe]-hydrogenases occur in many prokaryotic orders. We found that the respective hypD genes cooccur with oxygen-tolerant [NiFe]-hydrogenases (groups 1 and 5) mainly of Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria, and Burkholderiales; cyanobacterial uptake hydrogenases (group 2a) of cyanobacteria; H2-sensing hydrogenases (group 2b) of Burkholderiales, Rhizobiales, and Rhodobacterales; and two groups of multimeric soluble hydrogenases (groups 3b and 3d) of Legionellales and cyanobacteria. These findings support and expand a previous analysis of metagenomic data (M. Barz et al., PLoS One 5:e13846, 2010, http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0013846) and further identify [NiFe]-hydrogenases that could be involved in hydrogen cycling in aquatic surface waters.
Project description:Methylmercury (MeHg) is a neurotoxic compound that threatens wildlife and human health across the Arctic region. Though much is known about the source and dynamics of its inorganic mercury (Hg) precursor, the exact origin of the high MeHg concentrations in Arctic biota remains uncertain. Arctic coastal sediments, coastal marine waters and surface snow are known sites for MeHg production. Observations on marine Hg dynamics, however, have been restricted to the Canadian Archipelago and the Beaufort Sea (<79 °N). Here we present the first central Arctic Ocean (79-90 °N) profiles for total mercury (tHg) and MeHg. We find elevated tHg and MeHg concentrations in the marginal sea ice zone (81-85 °N). Similar to other open ocean basins, Arctic MeHg concentration maxima also occur in the pycnocline waters, but at much shallower depths (150-200 m). The shallow MeHg maxima just below the productive surface layer possibly result in enhanced biological uptake at the base of the Arctic marine food web and may explain the elevated MeHg concentrations in Arctic biota. We suggest that Arctic warming, through thinning sea ice, extension of the seasonal sea ice zone, intensified surface ocean stratification and shifts in plankton ecodynamics, will likely lead to higher marine MeHg production.
Project description:The Eurasian basin of the Central Arctic Ocean is nitrogen limited, but little is known about the presence and role of nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Recent studies have indicated the occurrence of diazotrophs in Arctic coastal waters potentially of riverine origin. Here, we investigated the presence of diazotrophs in ice and surface waters of the Central Arctic Ocean in the summer of 2012. We identified diverse communities of putative diazotrophs through targeted analysis of the nifH gene, which encodes the iron protein of the nitrogenase enzyme. We amplified 529 nifH sequences from 26 samples of Arctic melt ponds, sea ice and surface waters. These sequences resolved into 43 clusters at 92% amino acid sequence identity, most of which were non-cyanobacterial phylotypes from sea ice and water samples. One cyanobacterial phylotype related to Nodularia sp. was retrieved from sea ice, suggesting that this important functional group is rare in the Central Arctic Ocean. The diazotrophic community in sea-ice environments appear distinct from other cold-adapted diazotrophic communities, such as those present in the coastal Canadian Arctic, the Arctic tundra and glacial Antarctic lakes. Molecular fingerprinting of nifH and the intergenic spacer region of the rRNA operon revealed differences between the communities from river-influenced Laptev Sea waters and those from ice-related environments pointing toward a marine origin for sea-ice diazotrophs. Our results provide the first record of diazotrophs in the Central Arctic and suggest that microbial nitrogen fixation may occur north of 77°N. To assess the significance of nitrogen fixation for the nitrogen budget of the Arctic Ocean and to identify the active nitrogen fixers, further biogeochemical and molecular biological studies are needed.
Project description:Hydrothermal vents are a well-known source of energy that powers chemosynthesis in the deep sea. Recent work suggests that microbial chemosynthesis is also surprisingly pervasive throughout the dark oceans, serving as a significant CO(2) sink even at sites far removed from vents. Ammonia and sulfur have been identified as potential electron donors for this chemosynthesis, but they do not fully account for measured rates of dark primary production in the pelagic water column. Here we use metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analyses to show that deep-sea populations of the SUP05 group of uncultured sulfur-oxidizing Gammaproteobacteria, which are abundant in widespread and diverse marine environments, contain and highly express genes encoding group 1 Ni, Fe hydrogenase enzymes for H(2) oxidation. Reconstruction of near-complete genomes of two cooccurring SUP05 populations in hydrothermal plumes and deep waters of the Gulf of California enabled detailed population-specific metatranscriptomic analyses, revealing dynamic patterns of gene content and transcript abundance. SUP05 transcripts for genes involved in H(2) and sulfur oxidation are most abundant in hydrothermal plumes where these electron donors are enriched. In contrast, a second hydrogenase has more abundant transcripts in background deep-sea samples. Coupled with results from a bioenergetic model that suggest that H(2) oxidation can contribute significantly to the SUP05 energy budget, these findings reveal the potential importance of H(2) as a key energy source in the deep ocean. This study also highlights the genomic plasticity of SUP05, which enables this widely distributed group to optimize its energy metabolism (electron donor and acceptor) to local geochemical conditions.
Project description:Marine surface waters are being acidified due to uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide, resulting in surface ocean areas of undersaturation with respect to carbonate minerals, including aragonite. In the Arctic Ocean, acidification is expected to occur at an accelerated rate with respect to the global oceans, but a paucity of baseline data has limited our understanding of the extent of Arctic undersaturation and of regional variations in rates and causes. The lack of data has also hindered refinement of models aimed at projecting future trends of ocean acidification. Here, based on more than 34,000 data records collected in 2010 and 2011, we establish a baseline of inorganic carbon data (pH, total alkalinity, dissolved inorganic carbon, partial pressure of carbon dioxide, and aragonite saturation index) for the western Arctic Ocean. This data set documents aragonite undersaturation in ? 20% of the surface waters of the combined Canada and Makarov basins, an area characterized by recent acceleration of sea ice loss. Conservative tracer studies using stable oxygen isotopic data from 307 sites show that while the entire surface of this area receives abundant freshwater from meteoric sources, freshwater from sea ice melt is most closely linked to the areas of carbonate mineral undersaturation. These data link the Arctic Ocean's largest area of aragonite undersaturation to sea ice melt and atmospheric CO2 absorption in areas of low buffering capacity. Some relatively supersaturated areas can be linked to localized biological activity. Collectively, these observations can be used to project trends of ocean acidification in higher latitude marine surface waters where inorganic carbon chemistry is largely influenced by sea ice meltwater.
Project description:Marine bacterioplanktons are thought to play a vital role in Southern Ocean ecology and ecosystem function, as they do in other ocean systems. However, our understanding of phylogenetic diversity, genome-enabled capabilities and specific adaptations to this persistently cold environment is limited. Bacterioplankton community composition shifts significantly over the annual cycle as sea ice melts and phytoplankton bloom. Microbial diversity in sea ice is better known than that of the plankton, where culture collections do not appear to represent organisms detected with molecular surveys. Broad phylogenetic groupings of Antarctic bacterioplankton such as the marine group I Crenarchaeota, alpha-Proteobacteria (Roseobacter-related and SAR-11 clusters), gamma-Proteobacteria (both cultivated and uncultivated groups) and Bacteriodetes-affiliated organisms in Southern Ocean waters are in common with other ocean systems. Antarctic SSU rRNA gene phylotypes are typically affiliated with other polar sequences. Some species such as Polaribacter irgensii and currently uncultivated gamma-Proteobacteria (Ant4D3 and Ant10A4) may flourish in Antarctic waters, though further studies are needed to address diversity on a larger scale. Insights from initial genomics studies on both cultivated organisms and genomes accessed through shotgun cloning of environmental samples suggest that there are many unique features of these organisms that facilitate survival in high-latitude, persistently cold environments.