8, 2013, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1221775110


Muñoz-Marin MC, Luque I, Zubkov MV, Hill PG, Diez J & García-Fernandez JM


Prochlorococcus is responsible for a significant part of CO2 fixation in the ocean. Although it was long considered an autotrophic cyanobacterium, the uptake of organic compounds has been reported, assuming they were sources of limited biogenic elements. We have shown in laboratory experiments that Prochlorococcus can take up glucose. However, the mechanisms of glucose uptake and its occurrence in the ocean have not been shown. Here, we report that the gene Pro1404 confers capability for glucose uptake in Prochlorococcus marinus SS120. We used a cyanobacterium unable to take up glucose to engineer strains that express the Pro1404 gene. These recombinant strains were capable of specific glucose uptake over a wide range of glucose concentrations, showing multiphasic transport kinetics. The Ks constant of the high affinity phase was in the nanomolar range, consistent with the average concentration of glucose in the ocean. Furthermore, we were able to observe glucose uptake by Prochlorococcus in the central Atlantic Ocean, where glucose concentrations were 0.5–2.7 nM. Our results suggest that Prochlorococcus are primary producers capable of tuning their metabolism to energetically benefit from environmental conditions, taking up not only organic compounds with key limiting elements in the ocean, but also molecules devoid of such elements, like glucose.


El estudio llevado a cabo por el grupo de los Drs. Jose Manuel García Fernández y Jesús Díez, del Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular de la Universidad de Córdoba, cuya primera autora es la doctoranda María del Carmen Muñoz Marín, ha probado que Prochlorococcus es perfectamente capaz de absorber glucosa del océano. El estudio se ha publicado en Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, después de tres años de trabajo en el laboratorio y dos meses de expedición en el Océano Atlántico, tomando muestras en un viaje desde el Sur de Inglaterra hasta Chile, y gracias a la colaboración con el Dr. Ignacio Luque, del Instituto de Bioquímica Vegetal y Fotosíntesis del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) y el Dr. Mikhail Zubkov, del Centro Oceanográfico Nacional de Southampton, en Reino Unido.

imagen mayo


Prochlorococcus es una cianobacteria marina de extraordinaria importancia, siendo responsable de una parte significativa de la producción primaria global. Además, es el organismo fotosintético más pequeño y abundante de nuestro planeta. Debido a esto, Prochlorococcus se ha convertido en un modelo ecológico de gran relevancia. Nuestro grupo ha estado estudiando desde 1997 el metabolismo del nitrógeno en Prochlorococcus. Por otra parte, nuestro grupo descubrió en 2006 la capacidad que tiene Prochlorococcus de transportar glucosa, creándose una segunda linea de investigación en el metabolismo del carbono. Actualmente, seguimos investigando las adaptaciones en el metabolismo del nitrógeno y el carbono de Prochlorococcus que puedan contribuir a su éxito ecológico.

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