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Nature communications

Iron limitation of microbial phosphorus acquisition in the tropical North Atlantic.


PMID 28524880

Abstract

In certain regions of the predominantly nitrogen limited ocean, microbes can become co-limited by phosphorus. Within such regions, a proportion of the dissolved organic phosphorus pool can be accessed by microbes employing a variety of alkaline phosphatase (APase) enzymes. In contrast to the PhoA family of APases that utilize zinc as a cofactor, the recent discovery of iron as a cofactor in the more widespread PhoX and PhoD implies the potential for a biochemically dependant interplay between oceanic zinc, iron and phosphorus cycles. Here we demonstrate enhanced natural community APase activity following iron amendment within the low zinc and moderately low iron Western North Atlantic. In contrast we find no evidence for trace metal limitation of APase activity beneath the Saharan dust plume in the Eastern Atlantic. Such intermittent iron limitation of microbial phosphorus acquisition provides an additional facet in the argument for iron controlling the coupling between oceanic nitrogen and phosphorus cycles.

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