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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1992 Oct 1;76(1-2):57-61.

RNA sequence analysis shows that the symbionts in the ciliate Metopus contortus are polymorphs of a single methanogen species.

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Department of Zoology, Natural History Museum, London, UK.


The polymerase chain reaction was used to amplify and partially sequence the 16S ribosomal RNA genes of symbiotic bacteria within the anaerobic ciliate Metopus contortus. In situ probing with fluorescent oligonucleotides showed that the amplified sequences originated from a single species of archaebacterium which is closely related to Methanocorpusculum parvum. The probed symbionts exhibited a variety of shapes and sizes. These data support the hypothesis, first proposed on the basis of electron microscopy, that the symbionts undergo a morphological transformation as part of the symbiotic process.

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