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Environ Microbiol. 2010 Aug;12(8):2204-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2009.02129.x. Epub 2009 Dec 27.

Dual symbiosis of the vent shrimp Rimicaris exoculata with filamentous gamma- and epsilonproteobacteria at four Mid-Atlantic Ridge hydrothermal vent fields.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Celsiusstr. 1, 28359, Bremen, Germany.


The shrimp Rimicaris exoculata from hydrothermal vents on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) harbours bacterial epibionts on specialized appendages and the inner surfaces of its gill chamber. Using comparative 16S rRNA sequence analysis and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), we examined the R. exoculata epibiosis from four vents sites along the known distribution range of the shrimp on the MAR. Our results show that R. exoculata lives in symbiosis with two types of filamentous epibionts. One belongs to the Epsilonproteobacteria, and was previously identified as the dominant symbiont of R. exoculata. The second is a novel gammaproteobacterial symbiont that belongs to a clade consisting exclusively of sequences from epibiotic bacteria of hydrothermal vent animals, with the filamentous sulfur oxidizer Leucothrix mucor as the closest free-living relative. Both the epsilon- and the gammaproteobacterial symbionts dominated the R. exoculata epibiosis at all four MAR vent sites despite striking differences between vent fluid chemistry and distances between sites of up to 8500 km, indicating that the symbiosis is highly stable and specific. Phylogenetic analyses of two mitochondrial host genes showed little to no differences between hosts from the four vent sites. In contrast, there was significant spatial structuring of both the gamma- and the epsilonproteobacterial symbiont populations based on their 16S rRNA gene sequences that was correlated with geographic distance along the MAR. We hypothesize that biogeography and host-symbiont selectivity play a role in structuring the epibiosis of R. exoculata.

© 2009 Society for Applied Microbiology and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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