Publication in Science Advances

Substrate uptake patterns shape niche separation in marine prokaryotic microbiome

Marine heterotrophic prokaryotes primarily take up ambient substrates using transporters. The patterns of transporters targeting particular substrates shape the ecological role of heterotrophic prokaryotes in marine organic matter cycles. Here, we report a size-fractionated pattern in the expression of prokaryotic transporters throughout the oceanic water column due to taxonomic variations, revealed by a multi-“omics” approach targeting ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters and TonB-dependent transporters (TBDTs). Substrate specificity analyses showed that marine SAR11, Rhodobacterales, and Oceanospirillales use ABC transporters to take up organic nitrogenous compounds in the free-living fraction, while Alteromonadales, Bacteroidetes, and Sphingomonadales use TBDTs for carbon-rich organic matter and metal chelates on particles. The expression of transporter proteins also supports distinct lifestyles of deep-sea prokaryotes. Our results suggest that transporter divergency in organic matter assimilation reflects a pronounced niche separation in the prokaryote-mediated organic matter cycles.
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