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Journal Articles Science Year : 2012

Unicellular Cyanobacterium Symbiotic with a Single-Celled Eukaryotic Alga

Anne W. Thompson
  • Function : Author
Rachel A. Foster
  • Function : Author
Andreas Krupke
  • Function : Author
Brandon J. Carter
  • Function : Author
Niculina Musat
  • Function : Author
Marcel M. M. Kuypers
  • Function : Author
Jonathan P. Zehr
  • Function : Author


Symbioses between nitrogen (N)(2)-fixing prokaryotes and photosynthetic eukaryotes are important for nitrogen acquisition in N-limited environments. Recently, a widely distributed planktonic uncultured nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium (UCYN-A) was found to have unprecedented genome reduction, including the lack of oxygen-evolving photosystem II and the tricarboxylic acid cycle, which suggested partnership in a symbiosis. We showed that UCYN-A has a symbiotic association with a unicellular prymnesiophyte, closely related to calcifying taxa present in the fossil record. The partnership is mutualistic, because the prymnesiophyte receives fixed N in exchange for transferring fixed carbon to UCYN-A. This unusual partnership between a cyanobacterium and a unicellular alga is a model for symbiosis and is analogous to plastid and organismal evolution, and if calcifying, may have important implications for past and present oceanic N-2 fixation.
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hal-01254002 , version 1 (11-01-2016)



Anne W. Thompson, Rachel A. Foster, Andreas Krupke, Brandon J. Carter, Niculina Musat, et al.. Unicellular Cyanobacterium Symbiotic with a Single-Celled Eukaryotic Alga. Science, 2012, 337 (6101), pp.1546-1550. ⟨10.1126/science.1222700⟩. ⟨hal-01254002⟩
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