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Mosaic environment-driven evolution of the deep-sea mussel Gigantidas platifrons bacterial endosymbiont.

Microbiome 2023 November 17
BACKGROUND: The within-species diversity of symbiotic bacteria represents an important genetic resource for their environmental adaptation, especially for horizontally transmitted endosymbionts. Although strain-level intraspecies variation has recently been detected in many deep-sea endosymbionts, their ecological role in environmental adaptation, their genome evolution pattern under heterogeneous geochemical environments, and the underlying molecular forces remain unclear.

RESULTS: Here, we conducted a fine-scale metagenomic analysis of the deep-sea mussel Gigantidas platifrons bacterial endosymbiont collected from distinct habitats: hydrothermal vent and methane seep. Endosymbiont genomes were assembled using a pipeline that distinguishes within-species variation and revealed highly heterogeneous compositions in mussels from different habitats. Phylogenetic analysis separated the assemblies into three distinct environment-linked clades. Their functional differentiation follows a mosaic evolutionary pattern. Core genes, essential for central metabolic function and symbiosis, were conserved across all clades. Clade-specific genes associated with heavy metal resistance, pH homeostasis, and nitrate utilization exhibited signals of accelerated evolution. Notably, transposable elements and plasmids contributed to the genetic reshuffling of the symbiont genomes and likely accelerated adaptive evolution through pseudogenization and the introduction of new genes.

CONCLUSIONS: The current study uncovers the environment-driven evolution of deep-sea symbionts mediated by mobile genetic elements. Its findings highlight a potentially common and critical role of within-species diversity in animal-microbiome symbioses. Video Abstract.

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