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  1. Abstract Background

    Marine symbioses are predominantly established through horizontal acquisition of microbial symbionts from the environment. However, genetic and functional comparisons of free-living populations of symbionts to their host-associated counterparts are sparse. Here, we assembled the first genomes of the chemoautotrophic gammaproteobacterial symbionts affiliated with the deep-sea snailAlviniconcha hesslerifrom two separate hydrothermal vent fields of the Mariana Back-Arc Basin. We used phylogenomic and population genomic methods to assess sequence and gene content variation between free-living and host-associated symbionts.


    Our phylogenomic analyses show that the free-living and host-associated symbionts ofA. hesslerifrom both vent fields are populations of monophyletic strains from a single species. Furthermore, genetic structure and gene content analyses indicate that these symbiont populations are differentiated by vent field rather than by lifestyle.


    Together, this work suggests that, despite the potential influence of host-mediated acquisition and release processes on horizontally transmitted symbionts, geographic isolation and/or adaptation to local habitat conditions are important determinants of symbiont population structure and intra-host composition.

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  2. Wilkins, Laetitia G. (Ed.)
    Beneficial relationships between animals and microbial organisms (symbionts) are ubiquitous in nature. In the ocean, microbial symbionts are typically acquired from the environment and their composition across geographic locations is often shaped by adaptation to local habitat conditions. However, it is currently unknown how generalizable these patterns are across symbiotic systems that have contrasting ecological characteristics. To address this question, we compared symbiont population structure between deep-sea hydrothermal vent mussels and co-occurring but ecologically distinct snail species. Our analyses show that mussel symbiont populations are less partitioned by geography and do not demonstrate evidence for environmental adaptation. We posit that the mussel's mixotrophic feeding mode may lower its need to affiliate with locally adapted symbiont strains, while microhabitat stability and symbiont genomic mixing likely favors persistence of symbiont strains across geographic locations. Altogether, these findings further our understanding of the mechanisms shaping symbiont population structure in marine environmentally transmitted symbioses. 
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  3. Abstract

    Chemosynthetic animal-microbe symbioses sustain hydrothermal vent communities in the global deep sea. In the Indo-Pacific Ocean, hydrothermal ecosystems are often dominated by gastropod species of the genus Alviniconcha, which live in association with chemosynthetic Gammaproteobacteria or Campylobacteria. While the symbiont genomes of most extant Alviniconcha species have been sequenced, no genome information is currently available for the gammaproteobacterial endosymbiont of Alviniconcha adamantis—a comparatively shallow living species that is thought to be the ancestor to all other present Alviniconcha lineages. Here, we report the first genome sequence for the symbiont of A. adamantis from the Chamorro Seamount at the Mariana Arc. Our phylogenomic analyses show that the A. adamantis symbiont is most closely related to Chromatiaceae endosymbionts of the hydrothermal vent snails Alviniconcha strummeri and Chrysomallon squamiferum, but represents a distinct bacterial species or possibly genus. Overall, the functional capacity of the A. adamantis symbiont appeared to be similar to other chemosynthetic Gammaproteobacteria, though several flagella and chemotaxis genes were detected, which are absent in other gammaproteobacterial Alviniconcha symbionts. These differences might suggest potential contrasts in symbiont transmission dynamics, host recognition, or nutrient transfer. Furthermore, an abundance of genes for ammonia transport and urea usage could indicate adaptations to the oligotrophic waters of the Mariana region, possibly via recycling of host- and environment-derived nitrogenous waste products. This genome assembly adds to the growing genomic resources for chemosynthetic bacteria from hydrothermal vents and will be valuable for future comparative genomic analyses assessing gene content evolution in relation to environment and symbiotic lifestyles.

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  4. Symbiont specificity, both at the phylotype and strain level, can have profound consequences for host ecology and evolution. However, except for insights from a few model symbiosis systems, the degree of partner fidelity and the influence of host versus environmental factors on symbiont composition are still poorly understood. Nutritional symbioses between invertebrate animals and chemosynthetic bacteria at deep-sea hydrothermal vents are examples of relatively selective associations, where hosts affiliate only with particular, environmentally acquired phylotypes of gammaproteobacterial or campylobacterial symbionts. In hydrothermal vent snails of the sister genera Alviniconcha and Ifremeria , this phylotype specificity has been shown to play a role in habitat distribution and partitioning among different holobiont species. However, it is currently unknown if fidelity goes beyond species-level associations and influences genetic structuring, connectivity, and habitat adaptation of holobiont populations. We used metagenomic analyses to assess sequence variation in hosts and symbionts and identify correlations with geographic and environmental factors. Our analyses indicate that host populations are not differentiated across an ∼800-km gradient, while symbiont populations are clearly structured between vent locations due to a combination of neutral and selective processes. Overall, these results suggest that host individuals flexibly associate with locally adapted strains of their specific symbiont phylotypes, which supports a long-standing but untested paradigm of the benefits of horizontal transmission. Symbiont strain flexibility in these snails likely enables host populations to exploit a range of habitat conditions, which might favor widespread genetic connectivity and ecological resilience unless physical dispersal barriers are present. 
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  5. Vertical transmission of bacterial endosymbionts is accompanied by virtually irreversible gene loss that results in a progressive reduction in genome size. While the evolutionary processes of genome reduction have been well described in some terrestrial symbioses, they are less understood in marine systems where vertical transmission is rarely observed. The association between deep-sea vesicomyid clams and chemosynthetic Gammaproteobacteria is one example of maternally inherited symbioses in the ocean. Here, we assessed the contributions of drift, recombination and selection to genome evolution in two extant vesicomyid symbiont clades by comparing 15 representative symbiont genomes (1.017–1.586 Mb) to those of closely related bacteria and the hosts' mitochondria. Our analyses suggest that drift is a significant force driving genome evolution in vesicomyid symbionts, though selection and interspecific recombination appear to be critical for maintaining symbiont functional integrity and creating divergent patterns of gene conservation. Notably, the two symbiont clades possess putative functional differences in sulfide physiology, anaerobic respiration and dependency on environmental vitamin B12, which probably reflect adaptations to different ecological habitats available to each symbiont group. Overall, these results contribute to our understanding of the eco-evolutionary processes shaping reductive genome evolution in vertically transmitted symbioses. 
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  6. Atomi, Haruyuki (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Genome and proteome data predict the presence of both the reductive citric acid cycle (rCAC; also called the reductive tricarboxylic acid cycle) and the Calvin-Benson-Bassham cycle (CBB) in “ Candidatus Endoriftia persephonae,” the autotrophic sulfur-oxidizing bacterial endosymbiont from the giant hydrothermal vent tubeworm Riftia pachyptila . We tested whether these cycles were differentially induced by sulfide supply, since the synthesis of biosynthetic intermediates by the rCAC is less energetically expensive than that by the CBB. R. pachyptila was incubated under in situ conditions in high-pressure aquaria under low (28 to 40 μmol · h −1 ) or high (180 to 276 μmol · h −1 ) rates of sulfide supply. Symbiont-bearing trophosome samples excised from R. pachyptila maintained under the two conditions were capable of similar rates of CO 2 fixation. Activities of the rCAC enzyme ATP-dependent citrate lyase (ACL) and the CBB enzyme 1,3-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RubisCO) did not differ between the two conditions, although transcript abundances for ATP-dependent citrate lyase were 4- to 5-fold higher under low-sulfide conditions. δ 13 C values of internal dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) pools were varied and did not correlate with sulfide supply rate. In samples taken from freshly collected R. pachyptila , δ 13 C values of lipids fell between those collected for organisms using either the rCAC or the CBB exclusively. These observations are consistent with cooccurring activities of the rCAC and the CBB in this symbiosis. IMPORTANCE Previous to this study, the activities of the rCAC and CBB in R. pachyptila had largely been inferred from “omics” studies of R. pachyptila without direct assessment of in situ conditions prior to collection. In this study, R. pachyptila was maintained and monitored in high-pressure aquaria prior to measuring its CO 2 fixation parameters. Results suggest that ranges in sulfide concentrations similar to those experienced in situ do not exert a strong influence on the relative activities of the rCAC and the CBB. This observation highlights the importance of further study of this symbiosis and other organisms with multiple CO 2 -fixing pathways, which recent genomics and biochemical studies suggest are likely to be more prevalent than anticipated. 
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  7. Abstract Despite significant advances in our understanding of speciation in the marine environment, the mechanisms underlying evolutionary diversification in deep-sea habitats remain poorly investigated. Here, we used multigene molecular clocks and population genetic inferences to examine processes that led to the emergence of the six extant lineages of Alviniconcha snails, a key taxon inhabiting deep-sea hydrothermal vents in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. We show that both allopatric divergence through historical vicariance and ecological isolation due to niche segregation contributed to speciation in this genus. The split between the two major Alviniconcha clades (separating A. boucheti and A. marisindica from A. kojimai, A. hessleri, and A. strummeri) probably resulted from tectonic processes leading to geographic separation, whereas the splits between co-occurring species might have been influenced by ecological factors, such as the availability of specific chemosynthetic symbionts. Phylogenetic origin of the sixth species, Alviniconcha adamantis, remains uncertain, although its sister position to other extant Alviniconcha lineages indicates a possible ancestral relationship. This study lays a foundation for future genomic studies aimed at deciphering the roles of local adaptation, reproductive biology, and host–symbiont compatibility in speciation of these vent-restricted snails. 
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  8. Abstract

    Anaerobiosis has independently evolved in multiple lineages of ciliates, allowing them to colonize a variety of anoxic and oxygen‐depleted habitats. Anaerobic ciliates commonly form symbiotic relationships with various prokaryotes, including methanogenic archaea and members of several bacterial groups. The hypothesized functions of these ecto‐ and endosymbionts include the symbiont utilizing the ciliate's fermentative end products to increase the host's anaerobic metabolic efficiency, or the symbiont directly providing the host with energy by denitrification or photosynthesis. The host, in turn, may protect the symbiont from competition, the environment, and predation. Despite rapid advances in sampling, molecular, and microscopy methods, as well as the associated broadening of the known diversity of anaerobic ciliates, many aspects of these ciliate symbioses, including host specificity and coevolution, remain largely unexplored. Nevertheless, with the number of comparative genomic and transcriptomic analyses targeting anaerobic ciliates and their symbionts on the rise, insights into the nature of these symbioses and the evolution of the ciliate transition to obligate anaerobiosis continue to deepen. This review summarizes the current body of knowledge regarding the complex nature of symbioses in anaerobic ciliates, the diversity of these symbionts, their role in the evolution of ciliate anaerobiosis and their significance in ecosystem‐level processes.

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