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The metabolite dimethylsulfoxonium propionate extends the marine organosulfur cycle

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Gebser,  Björn
IMPRS International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Thume, K., Gebser, B., Chen, L., Meyer, N., Kieber, D. J., & Pohnert, G. (2018). The metabolite dimethylsulfoxonium propionate extends the marine organosulfur cycle. Nature, 563, 412-415. doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0675-0.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-331B-2
Abstract
Algae produce massive amounts of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), which fuel the organosulfur cycle1,2. On a global scale, several petagrams of this sulfur species are produced annually, thereby driving fundamental processes and the marine food web1. An important DMSP transformation product is dimethylsulfide, which can be either emitted to the atmosphere3,4 or oxidized to dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) and other products5. Here we report the discovery of a structurally unusual metabolite, dimethylsulfoxonium propionate (DMSOP), that is synthesized by several DMSP-producing microalgae and marine bacteria. As with DMSP, DMSOP is a low-molecular-weight zwitterionic metabolite that carries both a positively and a negatively charged functional group. Isotope labelling studies demonstrate that DMSOP is produced from DMSP, and is readily metabolized to DMSO by marine bacteria. DMSOP was found in near nanomolar amounts in field samples and in algal culture media, and thus represents— to our knowledge—a previously undescribed biogenic source for DMSO in the marine environment. The estimated annual oceanic production of oxidized sulfur from this pathway is in the teragram range, similar to the calculated dimethylsulfide flux to the atmosphere3. This sulfoxonium metabolite is therefore a key metabolite of a previously undescribed pathway in the marine sulfur cycle. These findings highlight the importance of DMSOP in the marine organosulfur cycle.