Expression of a xanthine permease and phosphate transporter in cultures and field populations of the harmful alga Aureococcus anophagefferens: tracking nutritional deficiency during brown tides.
Targeted gene expression using quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) was employed to track patterns in the expression of genes indicative of nitrogen or phosphorus deficiency in the brown tide-forming alga Aureococcus anophagefferens. During culture experiments, a xanthine/uracil/vitamin C permease (XUV) was upregulated ?20-fold under nitrogen-deficient conditions relative to a nitrogen-replete control and rapidly returned to nitrogen-replete levels after nitrogen-deficient cells were resupplied with nitrate or ammonium. It was not responsive to phosphorus deficiency. Expression of an inorganic phosphate transporter (PTA3) was enriched ?10-fold under phosphorus-deficient conditions relative to a phosphorus-replete control, and this signal was rapidly lost upon phosphate resupply. PTA3 was not upregulated by nitrogen deficiency. Natural A.?anophagefferens populations from a dense brown tide that occurred in Long Island, NY, in 2009 were assayed for XUV and PTA3 expression and compared with nutrient concentrations over the peak of a bloom. Patterns in XUV expression were consistent with nitrogen-replete growth, never reaching the values observed in N-deficient cultures. PTA3 expression was highest prior to peak bloom stages, reaching expression levels within the range of P-deficient cultures. These data highlight the value of molecular-level assessments of nutrient deficiency and suggest that phosphorus deficiency could play a role in the dynamics of destructive A.?anophagefferens blooms.