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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2011 Jan;75(1):63-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2010.00989.x. Epub 2010 Nov 22.

Lucinidae/sulfur-oxidizing bacteria: ancestral heritage or opportunistic association? Further insights from the Bohol Sea (the Philippines).

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UMR 7138 UPMC-CNRS-MNHN-IRD Systématique, Adaptation, Évolution, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France.


The first studies of the 16S rRNA gene diversity of the bacterial symbionts found in lucinid clams did not clarify how symbiotic associations had evolved in this group. Indeed, although species-specific associations deriving from a putative ancestral symbiotic association have been described (coevolution scenario), associations between the same bacterial species and various host species (opportunistic scenario) have also been described. Here, we carried out a comparative molecular analysis of hosts, based on 18S and 28S rRNA gene sequences, and of symbionts, based on 16S rRNA gene sequences, to determine as to which evolutionary scenario led to modern lucinid/symbiont associations. For all sequences analyzed, we found only three bacterial symbiont species, two of which are harbored by lucinids colonizing mangrove swamps. The last symbiont is the most common and was found to be independent of biotope or depth. Another interesting feature is the similarity of ctenidial organization of lucinids from the Philippines to those described previously, with the exception that two bacterial morphotypes were observed in two different species (Gloverina rectangularis and Myrtea flabelliformis). Thus, there is apparently no specific association between Lucinidae and their symbionts, the association taking place according to which bacterial species is present in the environment.

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