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Combining SIMS and mechanistic modelling to reveal nutrient kinetics in an algal-bacterial mutualism

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Otti CrozeORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Copyright: © 2021 Laeverenz Schlogelhofer et al.Microbial communities are of considerable significance for biogeochemical processes, for the health of both animals and plants, and for biotechnological purposes. A key feature of microbial interactions is the exchange of nutrients between cells. Isotope labelling followed by analysis with secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) can identify nutrient fluxes and heterogeneity of substrate utilisation on a single cell level. Here we present a novel approach that combines SIMS experiments with mechanistic modelling to reveal otherwise inaccessible nutrient kinetics. The method is applied to study the onset of a synthetic mutualistic partnership between a vitamin B12-dependent mutant of the alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and the B12-producing, heterotrophic bacterium Mesorhizobium japonicum, which is supported by algal photosynthesis. Results suggest that an initial pool of fixed carbon delays the onset of mutualistic cross-feeding; significantly, our approach allows the first quantification of this expected delay. Our method is widely applicable to other microbial systems, and will contribute to furthering a mechanistic understanding of microbial interactions.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Schlogelhofer HL, Peaudecerf FJ, Bunbury F, Whitehouse MJ, Foster RA, Smith AG, Croze OA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS ONE

Year: 2021

Volume: 16

Issue: 5

Online publication date: 20/05/2021

Acceptance date: 29/04/2021

Date deposited: 08/06/2021

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0251643


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