Identity of epibiotic bacteria on symbiontid euglenozoans in O2-depleted marine sediments : evidence for symbiont and host co-evolution

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Edgcomb, Virginia P.
Breglia, S. A.
Yubuki, Naoji
Beaudoin, David J.
Patterson, David J.
Leander, Brian S.
Bernhard, Joan M.
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A distinct subgroup of euglenozoans, referred to as the “Symbiontida,” has been described from oxygen-depleted and sulfidic marine environments. By definition, all members of this group carry epibionts that are intimately associated with underlying mitochondrion-derived organelles beneath the surface of the hosts. We have used molecular phylogenetic and ultrastructural evidence to identify the rod-shaped epibionts of two members of this group, Calkinsia aureus and Bihospites bacati, hand-picked from sediments from two separate oxygen-depleted, sulfidic environments. We identify their epibionts as closely related sulfur or sulfide oxidizing members of the Epsilon proteobacteria. The Epsilon proteobacteria generally play a significant role in deep-sea habitats as primary colonizers, primary producers, and/or in symbiotic associations. The epibionts likely fulfill a role in detoxifying the immediate surrounding environment for these two different hosts. The nearly identical rod-shaped epibionts on these two symbiontid hosts provides evidence for a co-evolutionary history between these two sets of partners. This hypothesis is supported by congruent tree topologies inferred from 18S and 16S rDNA from the hosts and bacterial epibionts, respectively. The eukaryotic hosts likely serve as a motile substrate that delivers the epibionts to the ideal locations with respect to the oxic/anoxic interface whereby their growth rates can be maximized, perhaps also allowing the host to cultivate a food source. Because symbiontid isolates and additional SSU rDNA gene sequences from this clade have now been recovered from many locations worldwide, the Symbiontida are likely more widespread and diverse than presently known.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2010. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Nature Publishing Group for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in The ISME Journal 5 (2011): 231–243, doi:10.1038/ismej.2010.121.
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