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ISME J. 2011 Dec;5(12):1926-35. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2011.66. Epub 2011 Jun 23.

Dimorphism in methane seep-dwelling ecotypes of the largest known bacteria.

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  • 1Department of Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. baileyj@umn.edu

Abstract

We present evidence for a dimorphic life cycle in the vacuolate sulfide-oxidizing bacteria that appears to involve the attachment of a spherical Thiomargarita-like cell to the exteriors of invertebrate integuments and other benthic substrates at methane seeps. The attached cell elongates to produce a stalk-like form before budding off spherical daughter cells resembling free-living Thiomargarita that are abundant in surrounding sulfidic seep sediments. The relationship between the attached parent cell and free-living daughter cell is reminiscent of the dimorphic life modes of the prosthecate Alphaproteobacteria, but on a grand scale, with individual elongate cells reaching nearly a millimeter in length. Abundant growth of attached Thiomargarita-like bacteria on the integuments of gastropods and other seep fauna provides not only a novel ecological niche for these giant bacteria, but also for animals that may benefit from epibiont colonization.

PMID:
21697959
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3223306
Free PMC Article

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