Bacteria are important dimethylsulfoniopropionate producers in marine aphotic and high-pressure environments

Yanfen Zheng, Jinyan Wang, Shun Zhou, Yunhui Zhang, Ji Liu, Chun-Xu Xue, Beth Williams, Xiuxiu Zhao, Li Zhao, Xiao-Yu Zhu, Chuang Sun, Hong-Hai Zhang, Tian Xiao, Gui-Peng Yang, Jonathan Todd, Xiao-Hua Zhang

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Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) is an important marine osmolyte. Aphotic environments are only recently being considered as potential contributors to global DMSP production. Here, our Mariana Trench study reveals a typical seawater DMSP/dimethylsulfide (DMS) profile, with highest concentrations in the euphotic zone and decreased but consistent levels below. The genetic potential for bacterial DMSP synthesis via the dsyB gene and its transcription is greater in the deep ocean, and is highest in the sediment.s DMSP catabolic potential is present throughout the trench waters, but is less prominent below 8000 m, perhaps indicating a preference to store DMSP in the deep for stress protection. Deep ocean bacterial isolates show enhanced DMSP production under increased hydrostatic pressure. Furthermore, bacterial dsyB mutants are less tolerant of deep ocean pressures than wild-type strains. Thus, we propose a physiological function for DMSP in hydrostatic pressure protection, and that bacteria are key DMSP producers in deep seawater and sediment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4658
JournalNature Communications
Early online date16 Sep 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • DMSP
  • organosulfur cycling
  • marine microbiology
  • Deep ocean
  • DMS

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