Community level analysis of psbA gene sequences and irgarol tolerance in marine periphyton
Journal article, 2009
This study analyzes psbA gene sequences, predicted D1 protein sequences, species relative abundance, and pollution-induced community tolerance in marine periphyton communities exposed to the antifouling compound Irgarol 1051. The mechanism of action of Irgarol is the inhibition of photosynthetic electron transport at photosystem II by binding to the D1 protein. The metagenome of the communities was used to produce clone libraries containing fragments of the psbA gene encoding the D1 protein. Community tolerance was quantified with a short-term test for the inhibition of photosynthesis. The communities were established in a continuous flow of natural seawater through microcosms with or without added Irgarol. The selection pressure from Irgarol resulted in an altered species composition and an inducted community tolerance to Irgarol. Moreover, there was a very high diversity in the psbA gene sequences in the periphyton, and the composition of psbA and D1 fragments within the communities was dramatically altered by increased Irgarol exposure. Even though tolerance to this type of compound in land plants often depends on a single amino acid substitution (Ser(264)-> Gly) in the D1 protein, this was not the case for marine periphyton species. Instead, the tolerance mechanism likely involves increased degradation of D1. When we compared sequences from low and high Irgarol exposure, differences in nonconserved amino acids were found only in the so-called PEST region of D1, which is involved in regulating its degradation. Our results suggest that environmental contamination with Irgarol has led to selection for high-turnover D1 proteins in marine periphyton communities at the west coast of Sweden.