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Nitrogen fixation in a chemoautotrophic lucinid symbiosis

König S., Gros O., Heiden S.E., Hinzke T., Thürmer T., Poehlein A., Meyer S., Vatin M., Mbéguié-A-Mbéguié D., Tocny J., Ponnudurai R., Daniel R., Becher D., Schweder T., Markert S.. 2017. Nature Microbiology, 2 (1) : 10 p..

The shallow water bivalve Codakia orbicularis lives in symbiotic association with a sulfur-oxidizing bacterium in its gills. The endosymbiont fixes CO2 and thus generates organic carbon compounds, which support the host's growth. To investigate the uncultured symbiont's metabolism and symbiont¿host interactions in detail we conducted a proteogenomic analysis of purified bacteria. Unexpectedly, our results reveal a hitherto completely unrecognized feature of the C. orbicularis symbiont's physiology: the symbiont's genome encodes all proteins necessary for biological nitrogen fixation (diazotrophy). Expression of the respective genes under standard ambient conditions was confirmed by proteomics. Nitrogenase activity in the symbiont was also verified by enzyme activity assays. Phylogenetic analysis of the bacterial nitrogenase reductase NifH revealed the symbiont's close relationship to free-living nitrogen-fixing Proteobacteria from the seagrass sediment. The C. orbicularis symbiont, here tentatively named 'Candidatus Thiodiazotropha endolucinida', may thus not only sustain the bivalve's carbon demands. C. orbicularis may also benefit from a steady supply of fixed nitrogen from its symbiont¿a scenario that is unprecedented in comparable chemoautotrophic symbioses. (Résumé d'auteur)

Thématique : Ecologie aquatique

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