Trichodesmium, a globally important, N2-fixing, and colony-forming cyanobacterium, employs multiple pathways for acquiring nutrients from air-borne dust, including active dust collection. Once concentrated within the colony core, dust can supply Trichodesmium with nutrients. Recently, we reported a selectivity in particle collection enabling Trichodesmium to center iron-rich minerals and optimize its nutrient utilization. In this follow-up study we examined if colonies select Phosphorus (P) minerals. We incubated 1,200 Trichodesmium colonies from the Red Sea with P-free CaCO3, P-coated CaCO3, and dust, over an entire bloom season. These colonies preferably interacted, centered, and retained P-coated CaCO3 compared with P-free CaCO3. In both studies, Trichodesmium clearly favored dust over all other particles tested, whereas nutrient-free particles were barely collected or retained, indicating that the colonies sense the particle composition and preferably collect nutrient-rich particles. This unique ability contributes to Trichodesmium's current ecological success and may assist it to flourish in future warmer oceans.
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