How haptophytes microalgae mitigate vitamin B-12 limitation

Vitamin B-12 (cobalamin) can control phytoplankton development and community composition, with around half of microalgal species requiring this vitamin for growth. B-12 dependency is determined by the absence of cobalamin-independent methionine synthase and is unrelated across lineages. Despite their important role in carbon and sulphur biogeochemistry, little is known about haptophytes utilization of vitamin B-12 and their ability to cope with its limitation. Here we report the first evaluation of B-12 auxotrophy among this lineage based on molecular data of 19 species from 9 families. We assume that all species encode only a B-12-dependent methionine synthase, suggesting ubiquitous B-12 auxotrophy in this phylum. We further address the effect of different B-12 limitations on the molecular physiology of the model haptophyte Tisochrysis lutea. By coupling growth assays in batch and chemostat to cobalamin quantification and expression analyses, we propose that haptophytes use three strategies to cope with B-12 limitation. Haptophytes may assimilate dissolved methionine, finely regulate genes involved in methionine cycle and B-12 transport and/or limit B-12 transport to the mitochondrion. Taken together, these results provide better understanding of B-12 metabolism in haptophytes and represent valuable data for deciphering how B-12-producing bacteria shape the structure and dynamics of this important phytoplankton community.

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Nef Charlotte, Jung Sebastien, Mairet Francis, Kaas Raymond, Grizeau Dominique, Garnier Matthieu (2019). How haptophytes microalgae mitigate vitamin B-12 limitation. Scientific Reports. 9 (8417). 11p..,

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