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Review
, 10 (4), 399-411

Cross-protection From Hydrogen Peroxide by Helper Microbes: The Impacts on the Cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus and Other Beneficiaries in Marine Communities

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Review

Cross-protection From Hydrogen Peroxide by Helper Microbes: The Impacts on the Cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus and Other Beneficiaries in Marine Communities

Erik R Zinser. Environ Microbiol Rep.

Abstract

Hydrogen peroxide (HOOH) is a reactive oxygen species, derived from molecular oxygen, that is capable of damaging microbial cells. Surprisingly, the HOOH defence systems of some aerobes in the oxygenated marine environments are critically depleted, relative to model aerobes. For instance, the gene encoding catalase is absent in the numerically dominant photosynthetic cyanobacterium, Prochlorococcus. Accordingly, Prochlorococcus is highly susceptible to HOOH when exposed as pure cultures. Pure cultures do not exist in the marine environment, however. Catalase-positive community members can remove HOOH from the seawater medium, thus lowering the threat to Prochlorococcus and any other member that likewise lacks their own catalase. This cross-protection may constitute a loosely defined symbiosis, whereby the catalase-positive helper cells may benefit through the acquisition of nutrients released by the beneficiaries such as Prochlorococcus. Other members of the community that may be helped by the catalase-positive cells may include some lineages of Synechococcus - the sister genus of Prochlorococcus - as well as some lineages of SAR11 and ammonia oxidizing archaea and bacteria. The co-occurrence of catalase-positive and -negative members suggests that cross-protection from HOOH-mediated oxidative stress may play an important role in the construction of the marine microbial community.

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