The effects of Cu and Fe availability on the growth and Cu:C ratios of marine diatoms

Annett, Amber L., Suzanne Lapi, Thomas J. Ruth, Maria T. Maldonado

Limnol. Oceanogr., 53(6), 2008, 2451-2461 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2008.53.6.2451

ABSTRACT: We investigated the effects of copper (Cu) and iron (Fe) availability on the growth rates, cellular Cu content, and steady-state Cu uptake rates of eight species of centric diatoms (coastal and oceanic strains). Whereas Fe and Cu availability had a significant effect on the growth rates of both costal and oceanic diatoms, an interaction between Fe and Cu availability and growth rates was only observed for the oceanic diatoms. Determination of cellular Cu : carbon (C) quotas using the radiotracers 67Cu and 14C revealed that under Cu-sufficient conditions oceanic diatoms had elevated Cu :C ratios relative to coastal strains, regardless of Fe availability. Two species (one oceanic and one coastal) significantly increased their Cu demands in response to Fe limitation, indicating upregulation of the Cu-dependent high-affinity Fe uptake system in these organisms. The changes in cellular Cu :C ratios were accompanied by variations in steady-state Cu uptake rates. Thus, in some cases Cu uptake rates appear to be regulated by the cell in response to Fe availability. Rates of Cu acquisition also responded significantly to Cu variability. The variation in Cu uptake was more closely correlated with changes in total Cu concentration in the medium than in inorganic, free Cu concentrations, implying that organic Cu complexes may be bioavailable to diatoms. These findings indicate a greater biological role for Cu than was previously thought in open ocean regions.

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