Use and detection of a vitamin B1 degradation product yields new views of the marine B1 cycle and plankton metabolite exchange
Paerl, R. W., Curtis, N. P., Bittner, M. J., Cohn, M. R., Gifford, S. M., Bannon, C. C., … Bertrand, E. M. (2023, June 28). MBIO.
ABSTRACT Vitamin B1 (thiamin) is a vital nutrient for most cells in nature, including marine plankton. Early and recent experiments show that B1 degradation products instead of B1 can support the growth of marine bacterioplankton and phytoplankton. However, the use and occurrence of some degradation products remains uninvestigated, namely N-formyl-4-amino-5-aminomethyl-2-methylpyrimidine (FAMP), which has been a focus of plant oxidative stress research. We investigated the relevance of FAMP in the ocean. Experiments and global ocean meta-omic data indicate that eukaryotic phytoplankton, including picoeukaryotes and harmful algal bloom species, use FAMP while bacterioplankton appear more likely to use deformylated FAMP, 4-amino-5-aminomethyl-2-methylpyrimidine. Measurements of FAMP in seawater and biomass revealed that it occurs at picomolar concentrations in the surface ocean, heterotrophic bacterial cultures produce FAMP in the dark—indicating non-photodegradation of B1 by cells, and B1-requiring (auxotrophic) picoeukaryotic phytoplankton produce intracellular FAMP. Our results require an expansion of thinking about vitamin degradation in the sea, but also the marine B1 cycle where it is now crucial to consider a new B1-related compound pool (FAMP), as well as generation (dark degradation—likely via oxidation), turnover (plankton uptake), and exchange of the compound within the networks of plankton. IMPORTANCE Results of this collaborative study newly show that a vitamin B1 degradation product, N-formyl-4-amino-5-aminomethyl-2-methylpyrimidine (FAMP), can be used by diverse marine microbes (bacteria and phytoplankton) to meet their vitamin B1 demands instead of B1 and that FAMP occurs in the surface ocean. FAMP has not yet been accounted for in the ocean and its use likely enables cells to avoid B1 growth deficiency. Additionally, we show FAMP is formed in and out of cells without solar irradiance—a commonly considered route of vitamin degradation in the sea and nature. Altogether, the results expand thinking about oceanic vitamin degradation, but also the marine B1 cycle where it is now crucial to consider a new B1-related compound pool (FAMP), as well as its generation (dark degradation—likely via oxidation), turnover (plankton uptake), and exchange within networks of plankton.