Epibionts dominate metabolic functional potential of Trichodesmium colonies from the oligotrophic ocean. Academic Article uri icon


  • Trichodesmium is a genus of marine diazotrophic colonial cyanobacteria that exerts a profound influence on global biogeochemistry, by injecting 'new' nitrogen into the low nutrient systems where it occurs. Colonies of Trichodesmium ubiquitously contain a diverse assemblage of epibiotic microorganisms, constituting a microbiome on the Trichodesmium host. Metagenome sequences from Trichodesmium colonies were analyzed along a resource gradient in the western North Atlantic to examine microbiome community structure, functional diversity and metabolic contributions to the holobiont. Here we demonstrate the presence of a core Trichodesmium microbiome that is modulated to suit different ocean regions, and contributes over 10 times the metabolic potential of Trichodesmium to the holobiont. Given the ubiquitous nature of epibionts on colonies, the substantial functional diversity within the microbiome is likely an integral facet of Trichodesmium physiological ecology across the oligotrophic oceans where this biogeochemically significant diazotroph thrives.

publication date

  • September 2017