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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Mak A Saito
  • (508) 289-2393
Award Date:08/30/2017
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 347,686
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 347,686
  • FY 2017=$347,686
Start Date:11/01/2017
End Date:10/31/2019
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:US GEOTRACES PMT: Cobalt Biogeochemical Cycling and Connections to Metalloenzymes in the Pacific Ocean
Federal Award ID Number:1736599
DUNS ID:001766682
Parent DUNS ID:001766682
Program:Chemical Oceanography
Program Officer:
  • Henrietta Edmonds
  • (703) 292-7427

Awardee Location

County:Woods Hole
Awardee Cong. District:09

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Street:266 Woods Hole Road
City:Woods Hole
County:Woods Hole
Cong. District:09

Abstract at Time of Award

Cobalt is important for many forms of marine life, yet it is one of the scarcest nutrients in the sea. Cobalt's oceanic abundance and distribution, along with other scarce nutrients, can influence the growth of microscopic plants (phytoplankton). This in turn can influence carbon cycles in the ocean and atmosphere. Therefore, knowledge of the controls on cobalt's abundance and chemical forms in seawater is a valuable component of our ability to understand the ocean's influence on global carbon cycling. Within phytoplankton and other marine microbes, metals such as cobalt, iron, nickel, and copper are used as critical components of enzymes responsible for key cellular reactions. Since these enzymes require metals to work, they are named metalloenzymes. Participating in a Pacific Ocean cruise from Alaska to Tahiti, this project will study the oceanic distributions of dissolved cobalt and the cellular content of a group of metalloenzymes known to influence biogeochemical cycles. The project will provide scientific impact by creating new knowledge about oceanic micronutrients in regions of economic interest with regard to fisheries and deep-sea mining. Measurement of proteins in the North Pacific will provide data of broad biological and chemical interest and will be made available through a new NSF-funded "EarthCube Ocean Protein Portal" data base. Educational impact will stem from participation of a graduate student and two young technicians, as well as the PI's development of a high school chemistry curriculum for use in two local high schools, thus allowing teachers to include real oceanic and environmental data at their first introduction to chemistry. Cobalt has a complex biogeochemical cycle. Both its inorganic and organic forms are used by biology in the upper ocean and it is removed from solution by being scavenged in the intermediate and deep ocean. This scavenging removal results in cobalt having the smallest oceanic inventory of any biologically utilized element. Recent studies, however, have found that large dissolved cobalt plumes occur in major oxygen minimum zones due to a combination of less scavenging and additions from sedimentary and remineralization fluxes. The GP15 US GEOTRACES Pacific Meridional Transect (PMT) provides an opportunity to examine the influence of oxygen depletion on cobalt chemistry. Moreover, the study of the protein component of microbial communities using new proteomic techniques will provide evidence of how different major microorganisms respond to the chemical environment (e.g. through transporter production for specific nutrients and micronutrients) as well as the biochemical basis for metal requirements related to the use of specific metalloenzymes. Specifically, the PMT provides an opportunity to confirm that the Pacific oxygen minimum zones contain a large amount of cobalt and to test the hypotheses that simultaneous zinc scarcity could induce wide-scale biochemical substitution of cobalt for zinc in the North Pacific Ocean.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Held, Noelle and Saunders, Jaclyn and Futrelle, Joe and Saito, Mak "Harnessing the Power of Scientific Python to Investigate Biogeochemistry and Metaproteomes of the Central Pacific Ocean" Proceedings of the Python in Science Conference, v., 2018, p.. doi:10.25080/Majora-4af1f417-010 Citation details  

Saito, Mak A. and Noble, Abigail E. and Hawco, Nicholas and Twining, Benjamin S. and Ohnemus, Daniel C. and John, Seth G. and Lam, Phoebe and Conway, Tim M. and Johnson, Rod and Moran, Dawn and McIlvin, Matthew "The acceleration of dissolved cobalt's ecological stoichiometry due to biological uptake, remineralization, and scavenging in the Atlantic Ocean" Biogeosciences, v.14, 2017, p.. doi:10.5194/bg-14-4637-2017 Citation details  

Noble, Abigail E. and Ohnemus, Daniel C. and Hawco, Nicholas J. and Lam, Phoebe J. and Saito, Mak A. "Coastal sources, sinks and strong organic complexation of dissolved cobalt within the US North Atlantic GEOTRACES transect GA03" Biogeosciences, v.14, 2017, p.. doi:10.5194/bg-14-2715-2017 Citation details  

Cohen, Natalie R and Gong, Weida and Moran, Dawn M. and McIlvin, Matthew R. and Saito, Mak A. and Marchetti, Adrian "Transcriptomic and proteomic responses of the oceanic diatom Pseudo-nitzschia granii to iron limitation: Intracellular processes of an iron-limited diatom" Environmental Microbiology, v.20, 2018, p.. doi:10.1111/1462-2920.14386 Citation details  

Hawco, Nicholas J. and Saito, Mak A. "Competitive inhibition of cobalt uptake by zinc and manganese in a pacific Prochlorococcus strain: Insights into metal homeostasis in a streamlined oligotrophic cyanobacterium" Limnology and Oceanography, v.63, 2018, p.. doi:10.1002/lno.10935 Citation details  

Hawco, Nicholas J. and Lam, Phoebe J. and Lee, Jong-Mi and Ohnemus, Daniel C. and Noble, Abigail E. and Wyatt, Neil J. and Lohan, Maeve C. and Saito, Mak A. "Cobalt scavenging in the mesopelagic ocean and its influence on global mass balance: Synthesizing water column and sedimentary fluxes" Marine Chemistry, v.201, 2018, p.. doi:10.1016/j.marchem.2017.09.001 Citation details  

Tarrant, Emma and P. Riboldi, Gustavo and McIlvin, Matthew R. and Stevenson, Jack and Barwinska-Sendra, Anna and Stewart, Louisa J. and Saito, Mak A. and Waldron, Kevin J. "Copper stress in Staphylococcus aureus leads to adaptive changes in central carbon metabolism" Metallomics, v.11, 2019, p.. doi:10.1039/C8MT00239H Citation details  

Saito, Mak A. and Bertrand, Erin M. and Duffy, Megan E. and Gaylord, David A. and Held, Noelle A. and Hervey, William Judson and Hettich, Robert L. and Jagtap, Pratik and Janech, Michael G. and Kinkade, Danie B. and Leary, Dasha and McIlvin, Matthew and M "Progress and Challenges in Ocean Metaproteomics and Proposed Best Practices for Data Sharing" Journal of Proteome Research, v., 2019, p.. doi:10.1021/acs.jproteome.8b00761 Citation details  

Saito, Mak A. and McIlvin, Matthew R. and Moran, Dawn M. and Santoro, Alyson E. and Dupont, Chris L. and Rafter, Patrick A. and Saunders, Jaclyn K. and Kaul, Drishti and Lamborg, Carl H. and Westley, Marian and Valois, Frederica and Waterbury, John B. "Abundant nitrite-oxidizing metalloenzymes in the mesopelagic zone of the tropical Pacific Ocean" Nature Geoscience, v.13, 2020, p.. doi:10.1038/s41561-020-0565-6 Citation details  

Kellogg, Marissa M. and McIlvin, Matthew R. and Vedamati, Jagruti and Twining, Benjamin S. and Moffett, James W. and Marchetti, Adrian and Moran, Dawn M. and Saito, Mak A. "Efficient zinc/cobalt inter‐replacement in northeast Pacific diatoms and relationship to high surface dissolved Co : Zn ratios" Limnology and Oceanography, v., 2020, p.. doi:10.1002/lno.11471 Citation details  

Lee, Michael D. and Ahlgren, Nathan A. and Kling, Joshua D. and Walworth, Nathan G. and Rocap, Gabrielle and Saito, Mak A. and Hutchins, David A. and Webb, Eric A. "Marine Synechococcus isolates representing globally abundant genomic lineages demonstrate a unique evolutionary path of genome reduction without a decrease in GC content" Environmental Microbiology, v., 2019, p.. doi:10.1111/1462-2920.14552 Citation details  

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

Metal are highly scarce in seawater, yet they are important for nutrition of marine ecosystems, and can influence marine carbon cycling. In this project we analyzed the distribution of dissolved cobalt and labile cobalt across the North and Central Pacific Ocean as part of the GEOTRACES program on the GP15 section. The meridonial section provides an exciting view of a number of processes that influence the distribution of cobalt including hydrothermal inputs, sedimentary and coastal inputs, scavenging in intermediate waters, and scarcity in surface waters.  The Pacific transect suggests a substantial source of cobalt to the North Pacific basin along the Alaskan Shelf associated with a low salinity waters. Elevated concentrations of total and labile cobalt within oxygen minimum zones in the Equatorial North and South Pacific are likely due to the reduction of manganese oxide particles and release of incorporated cobalt. Additionally, increased cobalt concentrations above the Lō’ihi Seamount suggests a local hydrothermal source of dissolved cobalt. Low concentrations of cobalt are found in the surface ocean where cobalt is used as a nutrient for phytoplankton, particularly in the oligotrophic gyres. At depth, cobalt is depleted relative to phosphate throughout the transect, revealing a strong scavenging removal process in the deep Pacific. A number of parallel studies were conducted that contributed to our understanding of the biogeochemical interactions between metals and microbes in the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. These included the discovery of abundant metal-containing enzymes that are involved in the transformation of nitrogen in the low oxygen waters of the oceans using new protein measurement techniques. A study of diatoms isolated in the North Pacific found they are particularly efficient at replacing cobalt for zinc, and this likely reflects the higher abundance of cobalt in the North Pacific environment. A study was conducted that compared the minimum requirement of cobalt within the abundant cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus at 60 atoms per cell, using both metal and protein analysis of Co requiring proteins. This last study compared these requirements to a GEOTRACES compliant cobalt section in the Central Pacific Ocean from the METZYME expedition and to a global Co biogeochemical model. Together this grant contributed to our understanding of the biogeochemical cycling of cobalt and other metals in the Pacific Ocean environment. 

Last Modified: 05/23/2020
Modified by: Mak A Saito

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