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Surfing the vegetal pole in a small population: extracellular vertical transmission of an 'intracellular' deep-sea clam symbiont.

ABSTRACT: Symbiont transmission is a key event for understanding the processes underlying symbiotic associations and their evolution. However, our understanding of the mechanisms of symbiont transmission remains still fragmentary. The deep-sea clam Calyptogena okutanii harbours obligate sulfur-oxidizing intracellular symbiotic bacteria in the gill epithelial cells. In this study, we determined the localization of their symbiont associating with the spawned eggs, and the population size of the symbiont transmitted via the eggs. We show that the symbionts are located on the outer surface of the egg plasma membrane at the vegetal pole, and that each egg carries approximately 400 symbiont cells, each of which contains close to 10 genomic copies. The very small population size of the symbiont transmitted via the eggs might narrow the bottleneck and increase genetic drift, while polyploidy and its transient extracellular lifestyle might slow the rate of genome reduction. Additionally, the extracellular localization of the symbiont on the egg surface may increase the chance of symbiont exchange. This new type of extracellular transovarial transmission provides insights into complex interactions between the host and symbiont, development of both host and symbiont, as well as the population dynamics underlying genetic drift and genome evolution in microorganisms.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC4892456 | BioStudies | 2016-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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