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J Bacteriol. 1988 Jun;170(6):2506-10.

Sulfur-oxidizing bacterial endosymbionts: analysis of phylogeny and specificity by 16S rRNA sequences.

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  • 1Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093.


The 16S rRNAs from the bacterial endosymbionts of six marine invertebrates from diverse environments were isolated and partially sequenced. These symbionts included the trophosome symbiont of Riftia pachyptila, the gill symbionts of Calyptogena magnifica and Bathymodiolus thermophilus (from deep-sea hydrothermal vents), and the gill symbionts of Lucinoma annulata, Lucinoma aequizonata, and Codakia orbicularis (from relatively shallow coastal environments). Only one type of bacterial 16S rRNA was detected in each symbiosis. Using nucleotide sequence comparisons, we showed that each of the bacterial symbionts is distinct from the others and that all fall within a limited domain of the gamma subdivision of the purple bacteria (one of the major eubacterial divisions previously defined by 16S rRNA analysis [C. R. Woese, Microbiol. Rev. 51: 221-271, 1987]). Two host specimens were analyzed in five of the symbioses; in each case, identical bacterial rRNA sequences were obtained from conspecific host specimens. These data indicate that the symbioses examined are species specific and that the symbiont species are unique to and invariant within their respective host species.

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