Shining a light on microbial dark matter: a role for the forgotten B vitamins in marine algal communities?

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Plant Sciences


This project will investigate the exchange of B vitamins between marine microbes, providing insights into what holds communities together, and offering the possibility to culture the unculturable-the so-called 'microbial dark matter', revealed by environmental molecular surveys. Metagenomics datasets from various marine and fresh-water environments will be analysed to establish which species are capable of B-vitamin biosynthesis, and which are likely auxotrophs (requirers). The bioinformatics approach will be complemented with experimental mesocosm work to compare the effect of B vitamin fertilisation on microeukaryote growth (community composition and productivity) in natural samples. Finally, auxotrophic algal will be generated by CRISPR/Cas9, and then tested for their ability to interact with marine bacteria that can provide the micronutrients.


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