The genome of a novel isolate of Prochlorococcus from the Red Sea contains transcribed genes for compatible solute biosynthesis

FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2018 Nov 1;94(12). doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiy182.


Marine microbes possess genomic and physiological adaptations to cope with varying environmental conditions. So far, the effects of high salinity on the most abundant marine photoautotrophic organism, Prochlorococcus, in marine oligotrophic environments, are mostly unknown. Here, we report the isolation of a new Prochlorococcus strain (RSP50) belonging to high-light (HL) clade II from the Red Sea, one of the warmest and most saline bodies of water in the global oceans. A comparative genomic analysis identified a set of 59 genes that were exclusive to RSP50 relative to currently available Prochlorococcus genomes, the majority of which (70%) encode for hypothetical proteins of unknown function. However, three of the unique genes encode for a complete pathway for the biosynthesis of the compatible solute glucosylglycerol, and are homologous to enzymes found in the sister lineage Synechococcus. Metatranscriptomic analyses of this metabolic pathway in the water column of the Red Sea revealed that the corresponding genes were constitutively transcribed, independent of depth and light, suggesting that osmoregulation using glucosylglycerol is a general feature of HL II Prochlorococcus in the Red Sea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Genome, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Genomics
  • Glucosides / biosynthesis
  • Glucosides / genetics
  • Indian Ocean
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Phylogeny
  • Prochlorococcus / classification*
  • Prochlorococcus / genetics*
  • Prochlorococcus / isolation & purification
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Salinity
  • Synechococcus / genetics


  • Glucosides
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • glucosylglycerol