The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans represent different biogeochemical regimes in which the abundant marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus thrives. We have shown that Prochlorococcus populations in the Atlantic are composed of hundreds of genomically, and likely ecologically, distinct coexisting subpopulations with distinct genomic backbones. Here we ask if differences in the ecology and selection pressures between the Atlantic and Pacific are reflected in the diversity and genomic composition of their indigenous Prochlorococcus populations. We applied large-scale single-cell genomics and compared the cell-by-cell genomic composition of wild populations of co-occurring cells from samples from Station ALOHA off Hawaii, and from Bermuda Atlantic Time Series Station off Bermuda. We reveal fundamental differences in diversity and genomic structure of populations between the sites. The Pacific populations are more diverse than those in the Atlantic, composed of significantly more coexisting subpopulations and lacking dominant subpopulations. Prochlorococcus from the two sites seem to be composed of mostly non-overlapping distinct sets of subpopulations with different genomic backbones - likely reflecting different sets of ocean-specific micro-niches. Furthermore, phylogenetically closely related strains carry ocean-associated nutrient acquisition genes likely reflecting differences in major selection pressures between the oceans. This differential selection, along with geographic separation, clearly has a significant role in shaping these populations.
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© The Author(s) 2017.