|Prochlorococcus: Advantages and limits of minimalism|
|Partensky, F.; Garczarek, L. (2010). Prochlorococcus: Advantages and limits of minimalism. Ann. Rev. Mar. Sci. 2 2: 305-331|
|In: Carlson, C.A.; Giovannoni, S.J. (Ed.) (2010). Ann. Rev. Mar. Sci. 2. Annual Review of Marine Science, 2. Annual Reviews: Palo Alto. ISBN 978-0-8243-4502-0. 493 pp., more|
|In: Annual Review of Marine Science. Annual Reviews: Palo Alto. ISSN 1941-1405, more|
Prochlorococcus is the key phytoplanktonic organism of tropical gyres, large ocean regions that are depleted of the essential macronutrients needed for photosynthesis and cell growth. This cyanobacterium has adapted itself to oligotrophy by minimizing the resources necessary for life through a drastic reduction of cell and genome sizes. This rarely observed strategy in free-living organisms has conferred on Prochlorococcus a considerable advantage over other phototrophs, including its closest relative Synechococcus, for life in this vast yet little variable ecosystem. However, this strategy seems to reach its limits in the upper layer of the S Pacific gyre, the most oligotrophic region of the world ocean. By losing some important genes and/or functions during evolution, Prochlorococcus has seemingly become dependent on co-occurring microorganisms. In this review, we present some of the recent advances in the ecology, biology, and evolution of Prochlorococcus, which because of its ecological importance and tiny genome is rapidly imposing itself as a model organism in environmental microbiology.