Better together? Lessons on sociality from Trichodesmium

Meri Eichner*, Keisuke Inomura, Juan José Pierella Karlusich, Yeala Shaked

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The N2-fixing cyanobacterium Trichodesmium is an important player in the oceanic nitrogen and carbon cycles. Trichodesmium occurs both as single trichomes and as colonies containing hundreds of trichomes. In this review, we explore the benefits and disadvantages of colony formation, considering physical, chemical, and biological effects from nanometer to kilometer scale. Showing that all major life challenges are affected by colony formation, we claim that Trichodesmium's ecological success is tightly linked to its colonial lifestyle. Microbial interactions in the microbiome, chemical gradients within the colony, interactions with particles, and elevated mobility in the water column shape a highly dynamic microenvironment. We postulate that these dynamics are key to the resilience of Trichodesmium and other colony formers in our changing environment.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1072-1084
Number of pages13
JournalTrends in Microbiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


  • Trichodesmium
  • aggregation
  • colony
  • microbiome
  • microenvironment


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