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Determination of chemical communication among epibiotic Bacteria associated with the bloom forming cyanobacteria Trichodesmium

Tracy Mincer, Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry
Benjamin Van Mooy, MC&G

Grant Funded 2008

Members of the Genus Trichodesmium are globally important nitrogen-fixing photosynthetic bacteria that form immense blooms in oligotrophic surface waters, and affect multiple trophic levels. These filamentous buoyant cyanobacteria are covered with other microbes, that have been presumed to consume their hosts reduced carbon and nitrogen exudates, yet these epibionts remain poorly characterized. Recently, we discovered strong evidence that chemical signaling may be occurring on various Trichodesmium spp. filaments. This epibiotic signaling could impact the behavior of Trichodesmium itself since they possess genes that could enable this host to listen in on these signals. Support for this study will enable us to develop a model system for epibiosis and possible microbial community cooperation using this ecologically successful and globally dominant microorganism that thrives in a harsh environment.

Last updated: May 23, 2008