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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2011 Dec;61(3):834-43. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2011.08.006. Epub 2011 Aug 16.

The uncultured luminous symbiont of Anomalops katoptron (Beryciformes: Anomalopidae) represents a new bacterial genus.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1048, United States.


Flashlight fishes (Beryciformes: Anomalopidae) harbor luminous symbiotic bacteria in subocular light organs and use the bacterial light for predator avoidance, feeding, and communication. Despite many attempts anomalopid symbionts have not been brought into laboratory culture, which has restricted progress in understanding their phylogenetic relationships with other luminous bacteria, identification of the genes of their luminescence system, as well as the nature of their symbiotic interactions with their fish hosts. To begin addressing these issues, we used culture-independent analysis of the bacteria symbiotic with the anomalopid fish, Anomalops katoptron, to characterize the phylogeny of the bacteria and to identify the genes of their luminescence system including those involved in the regulation of luminescence. Analysis of the 16S rRNA, atpA, gapA, gyrB, pyrH, recA, rpoA, and topA genes resolved the A. katoptron symbionts as a clade nested within and deeply divergent from other members of Vibrionaceae. The bacterial luminescence (lux) genes were identified as a contiguous set (luxCDABEG), as found for the lux operons of other luminous bacteria. Phylogenetic analysis based on the lux genes confirmed the housekeeping gene phylogenetic placement. Furthermore, genes flanking the lux operon in the A. katoptron symbionts differed from those flanking lux operons of other genera of luminous bacteria. We therefore propose the candidate name Candidatus Photodesmus (Greek: photo = light, desmus = servant) katoptron for the species of bacteria symbiotic with A. katoptron. Results of a preliminary genomic analysis for genes regulating luminescence in other bacteria identified only a Vibrio harveyi-type luxR gene. These results suggest that expression of the luminescence system might be continuous in P. katoptron.

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